Warriors close out home stand with second sweep of Red Flash

https://hawaiiathletics.com/sports/mens-volleyball/stats/2023/saint-francis/boxscore/28094

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By Cindy Luis

Pick your poison. 

Saint Francis did, committing on Hawai’i’s middles and letting the Warriors’ outside hitters roam freely and often with just one blocker to hit over … and around … and over. Over and over again.

No. 1 Hawai’i finished its opening home stand with a second consecutive sweep of the visitors from Pennsylvania. It took just 107 minutes on Friday night as the Warriors (4-0) ran their home winning streak to 22 dating to last year with a 25-21, 25-20, 25-20 win at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawai’i’s twin Greek pillars of Spyros Chakas and Dimitrious Mouchlias each had 14 kills each with Mouchlias committing just one error and adding three of the team’s nine aces. Senior setter Jakob Thelle had a match-high four aces and junior hitter Keoni Thiim accounted for the other two. 

It was the third time this season at Chakas — the reigning national and conference player of the week — had 10 or more kills in a match, 23rd for his career. For Mouchlias, it was his second 10-plus match this season, 20th of his career.

The Red Flash (0-4) got eight kills from sophomore opposite Nathan Ziti. For the fourth straight match, Hawai’i was out blocked by an opponent, Saint Francis finishing with a 3-2 edge with senior middle Brandon Dunz in on all three. Both of the Warriors’ blocks came in Set 1.

For a second night, UH coach Charlie Wade was able to go to his bench. Midway through Set 3, the Warriors had a completely new lineup except for junior middle Cole Hogland and at libero … and that was Wade’s fault. Originally sophomore ‘Eleu Choy was inserted into the lineup at 21-14 to replace junior Brett Steward, but he was quickly replaced when the scorekeeper alerted Wade that he hadn’t designated a second libero on the scoresheet.

It was the season debut for Warrior sophomore setter Austin Buchanan. It nearly was Sheward’s first return to setter since 2020, Wade said he had toyed with Sheward going to setter and Choy at libero during practice this week.

Instead, Sheward — the reigning Big West defensive player of the week — finished with 13 digs as Hawai’i won that battle 34-30.

“It’s hard to defend us,” Wade said. “Guilherme (junior middle Voss) was running his routes and they were fronting him. If you’re going to make that decision, we don’t even have to set the middle.

“We’re still not as efficient as we’d like to be (on serve) but nine aces in three sets … you can’t be too disappointed. We want to stay aggressive.”

Hawai’i had 12 service errors but served in-bounds at over 80 percent. Saint Francis, also serving in at over 80 percent, had three aces to 10 errors.

Voss took just two swings, none in Set 1, with one kill. Hogland had two kills on seven attempts with two errors. Freshman middle Kurt Nusterer, replacing Voss in Set 3, recorded his first career kill with no errors on three attempts.

Voss said he was fine how things played out.

“It’s volleyball,” he said. “Sometimes it happens. What’s important is the win.”

The Warriors leave Monday for their first road trip of the season. They’ll be in North Carolina for three matches: at Queen’s on Wednesday, at Belmont Abbey on Thursday and at Barton on Saturday.

Voss said he is prepared for the colder weather. It is expected to be in 30s overnight this coming week.

“I bought gloves over Christmas break when I was in the snow,” he said. 

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