By Cindy Luis
Long Beach State was very, very good.
Hawai’i was … not.
Beach took advantage of a UH team that couldn’t close in Set 2 — wasting four set points — as well as their own offense that could do little wrong to sweep the Warriors, 25-20, 29-27, 25-22.
A turnstile crowd of 6,709 (7,527 tickets) at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center watched for 2 hours and 14 minutes as the fourth-ranked Beach handed top-ranked Hawai’i a 3-0 loss at home for the first time since March 5, 2020 (BYU). Beach hit .484 — a UH opponent season high — in improving to 12-2 overall, 3-0 in Big West play, while the Warriors hit .303 when falling to 17-2 and 0-1.
Hawai’i also saw its 15-match Big West home win streak snapped. In addition, the Warriors’ five-match home win streak over the Beach came to an end.
UH, which had not lost at home in 29 straight matches prior to last weekend, have now lost two of its last three. Hawai’i’s last conference home loss occurred on April 13, 2018, also to Long Beach State.
The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday, the Warriors’ last home match until hosting UC Irvine on April 7. Hawai’i will be on the road for the next two weeks — at CSUN (March 24-25) and at UC Santa Barbara (March 31-April 1).
But first things first. And that is fixing what ails the Warriors. Apparently there is plenty of that.
“No excuses,” UH coach Charlie Wade said. “We were in triag-ing all week, guys battling injuries and illness. We hadn’t practiced as a team all week and it looked like it tonight.
“I’m sure that, coming into tonight, (Beach) had this circled on their calendar. We beat them six straight sets last year.”
After dropping two four-setters at Long Beach State last April, the Warriors won the two that mattered the most: in three in the conference tournament and in three in the NCAA championship match.
What matters Saturday is how Hawai’i responds.
“We need to watch film, regroup,” Warrior hitter Chaz Galloway said after putting down 10 kills and team-high seven digs. “We need to keep our heads cool.
“We need to start off better, come out ready to play. (Saturday) is going to be a fight all night.”
Dimitrious Mouchlias led the Warriors with 15 kills. Hawai’i’s middles were very effective when they got set: Guilherme Voss with seven kills on seven errorless swings and Cole Hogland three kills on five errorless swings.
But the Warriors again were missing the punch that Spyros Chakas, the MVP of the NCAA Tournament gives. He finished with a career-low negative .045 with just seven kills on 22 attempts.
Conversely, Beach played near perfect with just one hitting error in dominating Set 1, two errors in Set 2, four in Set 3. Ohio State transfer Sotriris Siapanis led the way with a season-best 19 kills, hitting .531, and Spencer Olivier 13 kills, hitting .500. Beach’s middles Simon Torwie and Shane Holdaway combined for 15 kills with no errors on 20 swings.
Beach also out-blocked Hawai’i 7.5-3-5 with Torwie in on four.
The Warriors’ serving was efficient (5 aces, 7 errors) to the Beach 4 aces, 14 errors.
Mentally the match turned in Set 2. After losing Set 1 and looking bad doing so, Hawai’i found a spark late in Set 2 when taking four set points, the last at 27-26 on a kill by Galloway as the Warriors seemed poised to even the match.
Beach extinguished that when getting a kill by Siapanis to tie it for the 16th and last time.
Chakas hit wide to give Beach its first set point — a call that Hawai’i challenged but lost — and Holdaway quickly ended it with an ace, just his second this season.
The Warriors didn’t fold, even when trailing by six in Set 3 (15-9). They tied it at 18 but could never get a lead as Beach used a 3-0 to pull away for good.
“Hats off to Long Beach, offensively they were really good and we weren’t,” Wade said.
NOTE: Beach’s two losses this season were to UCLA, first 3-0 at UCLA on Feb. 9 and 3-1 at the Pyramid on Feb. 10
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