Despite an upset loss, Norene Iosia turned up all aces for the Rainbow Wahine. The senior setter put down a career high 6 service aces, moving her into sole possession of ninth all time at the University of Hawai‘i with 113 career aces. Iosia, who entered Friday night’s game ranked eleventh in program history, moved past former ‘Bows Reydan Ahuna and McKenna Granato on the list.
"Its cool," Iosia said. "Just having that mindset of contributing to the team with my serve. It takes a little pressure off the off the whole team."
The shocking loss market the first time the Rainbow Wahine (12-2, Big West Conference 2-1) had lost to UC Irvine in program history. Entering the game, Hawai‘i held a 40-0 all-time record. The rivalry now stands at 40-1, as the Anteaters snatched the victory from the ‘Bows grasp following the come-from-behind five set victory. The final set scores were: 11-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-16, 15-13. The outcome of the game mirrored the matchup between the two teams in Irvine last year, when the Anteaters took an early two set lead only for Hawai‘i to rally and win three sets. This time around, it was UC Irvine who completed the reverse sweep.
Freshman outside hitter Hanna Hellvig tied for a game high 14 kills in the match, while Iosia tacked on a double-double to her 6 aces, with 24 assists and 10 digs.
The Wahine opened the game behind the strong serve of senior setter Norene Iosia. Hawai‘i claimed the first three points of the game, with Hellvig, senior outside hitter McKenna Ross, and freshman middle blocker Amber Igiede each picking up their first kills of the game. Looking to shift momentum, the Anteaters responded with four uncontested points to wrestle the lead from the Wahines’ grasp. Control was again asserted however, as the ‘Bows used a 6-0 to regain the lead. Holding a 14-9 lead late in the set, Hawai‘i put down 10 unanswered points. The offensive explosion was led by Iosia’s 9 service scoring run, including 4 service aces. With an Aloha ball opportunity on hand, the scoring outburst was briefly interrupted by a UC Irvine kill, but the Wahine would not be denied as they claimed the 25-10 set one victory on a bad Anteater set.
Hawai‘i began set two much like they had the first, with an extended scoring run. McKenna Ross put down the first kill of the set to halt the UC Irvine service run in its tracks. The Wahine then turned to Iosia once again, who helped to extend the Hawai‘i lead with a 5 service scoring run. Trailing early and without a point on the board, the Anteaters were keen to turn things around. They were able to do so, using a 13-2 run to take the lead. The run included 8 unanswered points. The UC Irvine outburst was stopped by an Anteater service error. The mistake also set off a 12-3 ‘Bows run as Hawai‘i quickly regained control of the set. The remainder of set two was closely contested, with Wahine staying ahead of UC Irvine in a 5-4 rally to wrap up a 25-21 victory.
Set three was the most tightly contested of the match. The Anteaters seized the first point, and managed to stay ahead of the ‘Bows by a hair’s length early in the set. Holding a slim 8-9 lead, UC Irvine then gave up three straight points as Hawai‘i took their first lead of the set. The lead traded hands throughout the later part of the set. Trailing 24-23, the ‘Bows couldn’t force a deuce as a bad set by senior setter Bailey Choy handed the Anteaters a 25-23 win and extended the match to a fourth set.
"We should have given them more of a run for their money," junior middle blocker Skyler Williams said of the 48-point set. "I think that actually drove us."
Surfing a wave of momentum, UC Irvine sprinted out to a 14-7 lead. The Wahine looked confused and discombobulated on the court, never able to take the lead. The Anteaters led wire-to-wire in the 25-16 set four win to send the match into a fifth set.
Looking to end the comeback bid by UC Irvine, the Wahine took the early advantage by scoring the first two points of the set. However, an Anteater collided with the TV crew, and after a quick discussion, the referees decided to replay the point. The call reversal handed UC Irvine the momentum, as the Anteaters took off on a 7-1 run to take control of the set. After switching sides, the ‘Bows offense picked up the scoring, but was unable to keep UC Irvine off the board. The Wahine made a late run to tie the set up at 12-12, but gave up 3 of the final 4 points to UC Irvine to complete the reverse sweep.
With the loss, the ‘Bows move to 12-2 on the season. Their only loss prior to Friday night came against then No 5. Baylor in Waco, Texas. Conference play continues as Hawai‘i hosts Cal State Fullerton. Similar to UC Irvine, the ‘Bows hold a 40-0 all-time record against the Titans heading into Saturday’s game.
The Wahine return to the Stan Sheriff Center to take on Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. HST.