Crispness was the word of the day after a sloppy performance against Army. Head coach Robyn Ah Mow stressed the importance of limiting mistakes Friday night as the No. 20 University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (5-0) took on Sacramento State at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Wahine certainly appeared to have heard the coach’s words, committing just 6 attacking errors en route to their first sweep of the season. The set scores were 25-19, 25-17, and 25-18 as the ‘Bows extended their unbeaten streak to five games.
“It was better than last night,” Ah Mow said. “Just a better all-around effort by the girls. Faith (Ma’afala) usually tracks the errors. Tonight, I didn’t have to ask her (about the errors).”
Middle blockers Skyler Williams and Amber Igiede led the team with 9 kills each, with the former needing only 9 swings to do so and finishing with a perfect hit and kill percentage. Freshman outside hitter Riley Wagoner led the team with 11 digs, with fellow freshman Hanna Hellvig not far behind with 10.
Coming off of a career night against Army, Williams continued her hot streak in set one, putting the Wahine on the board first with an early kill. Williams’s kill proved to be the first in 6 consecutive Hawai’i scores for an early 6-0 lead. Wagoner’s 5 service scoring run eventually ended as Sacramento State managed to stem the tide with their first kill of the game. The Hornets settled down from then on to keep the game competitive, eventually trimming the Hawai’i lead to just 21-19 with a timely 4-1 run. The Wahine wouldn’t be denied, coming up with a 4-0 run of their own to end the set. Williams and junior outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen teamed up on a block to give Hawai’i a 25-19 victory in set one. Williams finished with a game leading 8 kills in the set.
The Rainbow Wahine started set two much like they had in set one, with an extended scoring streak as senior setter Bailey Choy led the team on an efficient 4 service scoring run. The Hornets rebounded with 4 kills of their own, but not before conceding another 5 points as the ‘Bows took an early 9-4 lead. Later in the set, the lead was extended to 17-8 as the Wahine took off on a 7-1 run. Later on, with Hawai’i holding on to an 18-10 lead, freshman Braelyn Akana checked into the game to for the first time in her UH career to raucous cheers from the crowd. Akana was blocked on her first kill attempt, but quickly rebounded with her first career kill off an assist by Choy. The Wahine would go on to take care of business, picking up the 25-17 set two victory, with the last point of the match coming from a Hornets service error. Rasmussen finished with 6 kills in the set.
“It shows a lot of respect and trust that (the coaches) have in us as the players,” Akana said. “They know that anybody can come from the bench and do the work that needs to be done.”
Sacramento State attempted to flip the script by grabbing the first point of the set with a service ace, but quickly fell into old habits and conceding a 5-0 run to the Rainbow Wahine. Hawai’i was able to turn the 5-1 run into an early 12-5 lead. The Hornets put up a valiant fight, but ultimately fell 25-18 to the ‘Bows as Hawai’i closed out the game with a 6-2 run. Akana was heavily involved in the final stretch, teaming up with Rasmussen and senior outside hitter Kirsten Sibley on back-to-back blocks.
“We knew that she could do it. I mean, I recruited her,” Ah Mow said of Akana. “It’s just about executing and following the game plan, which she did.”
Hawai’i displayed a strong defensive performance, out blocking Sacramento State 7 to 1. The ‘Bows also forced the Hornets into committing 18 errors, compared to just 6 for UH. The Heineken Rainbow Wahine Invitational continues after a day off as Hawai’i hosts the Denver Pioneers.
The Rainbow Wahine return to Stan Sheriff Center to take on Denver on Sep. 8 at 4 p.m. HST.