Update (2:55 p.m.): Hawai‘i Athletics announced earlier today that outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen was doubtful for Friday night's game against Utah Valley with an ankle injury.
A joyous occasion for the University of Hawai‘i women's volleyball team quickly took a turn for the worst. After an on court incident, Jolie Rasmussen was unable to complete the final set and a half of the Rainbow Wahine's four-set victory.
“Oh no,” head coach Robyn Ah Mow said, describing her first reaction to Rasmussen's injury. “That was my reaction. But what can you do? You’re going to have injuries. Obviously, that was a huge dagger [to the team].”
“She went all out,” freshman outside hitter Tiffany Westerberg said. “She gave it her all. She sacrificed herself for the team. That was really big, and that shows how strong our players are.
“It’s always scary when you see your teammate get injured,” senior outside hitter McKenna Ross added. “The great thing about this team is that we have a deep bench, and we have many girls that are going to come in on the court and give it their all.”
The incident in question occurred during the third set, as the redshirt junior outside hitter collided with West Virginia’s Briana Lynch under the net on a UH score, leaving both players writhing on the floor in visible pain. Rasmussen was helped off the court and briefly put in a wheelchair, but she refused to leave her teammates, eventually returning to the court on crutches to cheer on the rest of the Wahine.
“It’s what we talked about before the match,” Westerberg said. “We’re one team, and we’re all here for each other.”
“It just shows how tight our team is,” Ross said. “We’re always there to support each other. Even when we’re down, we can’t be down because we still have a game to win.”
In non-injury related news, this match was the season debut for Ross. She appeared in all four sets and finishing with 6 kills and 10 receptions as the Rainbow Wahine (7-0) picked up their seventh consecutive win to start the season.
“[As a senior] it’s my last year,” Ross said. “I’m just going in this year with the mentality of going 110%.”
Set one began with a closely contested back-and-forth between the two teams. Within the first 12 points in the set, the score was tied six times, with the lead changing hands three times. However, the game soon took the turn as the Mountaineers took off on two 3-0 runs to take a 14-10 lead. The Wahine fought back with a 7-3 run to cut the deficit to 19-18. Hawai‘i eventually ran out of steam for the rally, conceding the final 6 points to West Virginia as the Mountaineers picked up the 25-18 set victory. Redshirt junior outside hitter Brooke Van Sickle and freshman middle blocker Amber Igiede led the team with 3 kills apiece. As a team, however, Hawai‘i hit just 5% of their attempted kills in the set as West Virginia took a 1-0 lead.
The second set proved to be very different from the first. Early in the set, the teams traded a tight lead back-and-forth. With West Virginia holding an 8-5 lead, Hawai‘i flipped the proverbial light switch, racing out on a 14-2 run to take charge of the game. The lead-taking charge was paced by a pair of service runs by Van Sickle (5) and freshmen outside hitter Hanna Hellvig (4). With Hawai‘i holding an Aloha ball opportunity, the Mountaineers attempted to make a late rally, reeling off four consecutive scores to cut the UH lead to 24-17. The comeback bid was not meant to be however, as a WVU error gave the Wahine the coveted final point. The 25-17 Hawai‘i victory evened the game at 1-1. Rasmussen finished with a team high 5 kills in the set, with senior outside hitter McKenna Ross not far behind with 4 kills. The Wahine were also able correct their earlier struggles, hitting on 43% of their kill attempts.
The ‘Bows appeared to be trending up following a rebound victory in set two. Set three began with a service ace by senior setter Bailey Choy. The opening was part of a 6-2 Hawai‘i run to start the set. However, on the Wahine’s sixth score of the set, Rasmussen and Lynch collided under the net, putting a brief stop to the game. Perhaps shaken by the events that occurred, Hawai‘i committed an error that gave West Virginia the first points after the game resumed. The Wahine rebounded though, with a 5-1 run to extend the lead to 11-4. The Mountaineers responded with a 5-0 run of their own to make it 11-9, but conceded 5 of the next 7 points to Hawai‘i. The Wahine took care of business from that point on, sealing the set with a 9-6 run. Hawai‘i took its first game lead 2-1 with the 25-17 set victory. Van Sickle and Igiede again led the team with 5 kills each.
The fourth set cut down on the drama of the earlier sets. The Wahine raced out to an 11-3 lead, fueled by an early 7-0 run. West Virginia was never able to regain traction, managing to score consecutive points only once in the set. With Hawai‘i holding a 15-9 lead, the ‘Bows clinched the set and the match with a 10-3 to end the set 25-12. Van Sickle finished with 4 kills in the set, culminating in her UH best 14 kills. Igiede finished with 3 kills in the fourth, giving her a career high 14 kills as well.
“She’s super fun to play with,” Ross said on playing with Igiede. “She’s super energetic. You know she’ll always go the extra mile to get the ball up. She’s like a ball of energy.”
Following the win streak extending victory, Rasmussen walked off the court with the help of crutches. She didn’t put any weight on her ankle, but appeared to have taken off the ankle wrapping. The extent of her injury remains unknown. Check back with Ka Leo for more updates when information becomes available.
The Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge continues at Stan Sheriff Center, as the Rainbow Wahine take on Utah Valley on Sep. 13 at 7 p.m. HST.