Saturday was head coach Robyn Ah Mow’s birthday, and all of her wishes came true that night at the Stan Sheriff Center as the University of Hawai‘i women’s volleyball team took on the UCLA Bruins in the championship match of the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge.
“I told the [the girls], I really want to beat UCLA,” Ah Mow said. “I hadn’t beat [former UH assistant coach Mike Sealy] yet. [I asked them to] give me a birthday present.”
The Rainbow Wahine (9-0) certainly delivered on that wish, taking down the Bruins in straight sets to capture the Outrigger Challenge championship. The set scores were: 25-15, 25-22, 25-23.
The win also marks the first time the Wahine have won the Hawaiian Airlines Classic, the Heineken Invitational, and the Outrigger challenge all in a single season since 2013.
Freshman outside hitter Hanna Hellvig continued her strong tournament performance, posting her second straight double-double with 11 kills and 12 digs against UCLA.
“I was really happy with my performance,” Hellvig said. “I felt calm throughout the whole game. Its been great. I’m happy.”
For her strong effort, Hellvig was named to Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
“Its amazing,” Hellvig said on earning the award. “I never thought this would happen, but it did and I’m so happy. I’m really proud of myself for [achieving] this and for staying steady throughout the game.”
Alongside Hellvig, freshman middle blocker Amber Igiede and redshirt junior outside hitter Brooke Van Sickle were named to the all-tournament team following the game.
The Bruins opened set one with a score after senior setter Norene Iosia’s service error to start the game. But it soon became clear who had the hot hand, as Hawai’i reeled off four straight points, with three Hellvig kills accounting for those points. Hellvig also combined with Igiede for a block during the run. The Wahine later solidified their lead with a 6-1 run to make it 12-5. UCLA tried to fight back, but the ‘Bows went on to score the final three points of the set, sealing the 25-15 win. Hellvig and junior middle blocker Skyler Williams led the team with 4 kills each in the set.
Attempting to capitalize on a strong first set, Hawai‘i ran out to an early 7-3 lead. However, in what would become a trend throughout the set, UCLA took the lead back with a quick 5-0 run. Minutes later, the Rainbow Wahine responded with a 6-0 run of their own. Later on in the set, the two teams traded 6-0 runs, with Hawai’i coming out with the 23-18 advantage. At risk of falling behind by two sets, UCLA quickly rattled off another four consecutive points to pull within one point, but the Wahine refocused to score the final two points they needed for the 25-22 set two victory. Williams led the team with
With the game on the line, UCLA made sure to keep set three close. Hawai‘i wanted their first sweep of the series however. With the Bruins leading 6-7, the Wahine took off on a 4-0 run to take back the advantage. UCLA fought back throughout the set, and held a slim 22-20 lead late. With the Outrigger Challenge within reach, Hawai‘i rallied with a 6-1 run to end the set. The 25-23 victory gave the Wahine their first sweep of the series, and it came at a perfect time.
The Hawai‘i win extends its unbeaten streak to nine games, as the team prepares to head out on the road for the first time. The Wahine will travel to Waco, Texas to take on Missouri and Baylor in the Baylor Tournament.
The Baylor Tournament begins in Texas as the Rainbow Wahine takes on Missouri at Ferrell Center on Sep. 21 at 8 a.m. HST.