For the first time since 2013, the University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team has captured the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic. Following Friday night’s season opening win, the Rainbow Wahine (3-0) took down the St. Johns Red Storm and No. 13 Washington Huskies on back-to-back nights to clinch the Classic, as well as the team’s first 3-0 start since 2015.
The Red Storm fell on Saturday night 3-2, as the ‘Bows picked up their second straight five set victory 26-28, 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, and 15-12. Junior outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen led the way with a team-high 18 kills through al five sets. Freshman outside hitter Hanna Hellvig continued her strong performance as well with 15 kills of her own. Senior setter Norene Iosia and redshirt junior libero Rika Okina led the team with 12 and 10 digs respectively.
The first set was a true shootout, with both teams topping 25 points in the set. However, the Red Storm was able to ride a 9-5 start to a win. The Wahine were able to take a 17-14 lead at one point, but it quickly gave way to an 18 all tie. The two teams continued to battle, but four ties later, the Red Storm finally pulled away to take a 28-26 win.
Set two began with another shootout. With UH holding a slim 16-14 lead, Senior setter Bailey Chow entered the game and immediately led the ‘Bows on a set-clinching 5-point service run, including a service ace. Holding a 21-14 lead, the Wahine were able to keep St. Johns at arms’ length the rest of the way en route to a 25-20 set two win.
The Red Storm held off the ‘Bows in set three with a closely contested 25-23 win to take a 2-1 lead on the game. However, for the second night in a row, the Wahine dug themselves out of the hole with a fourth set victory to extend the game. The set was tied 17-17 late, but the ‘Bows were able to hang on for a 25-22 set win. Hawai’i went on to win set five 15-12 to secure their second straight come from behind victory.
The next night, against top 15 ranked Washington, the Rainbow Wahine needed only four sets to clinch the 31st Wahine Classic. The ‘Bows took down the Huskies 3-1. The set scores were: 25-20, 25-12, 20-25, and 25-16. Rasmussen again led the team with a game-high 19 kills, while Hellvig racked up her third straight double digit kill performance with 11 through four sets.
The Wahine took set one, riding an early 5-2 lead to an opening victory. Holding a 23-20 lead, the ‘Bows closed out the set with a Hellvig kill and a double block by freshman middle blocker Amber Igiede and redshirt-junior outside hitter Brooke Van Sickle to take a 25-20 win. Set two was a runaway, with Hawai’i adding to an early 13-7 lead with a 6-0 run led by two service aces. The Wahine would go on to win the set 25-12.
Determined not to be blanked, Washington came out on fire in set three. The Wahine were not able to bounce back from an 18-11 deficit, falling to the Huskies 20-25. The momentum wouldn’t last though for Washington, as the ‘Bows ran out to a 25-16 lead in the fourth set to close out the game.
The win against the Huskies was the first in four tries for Hawai’i, including three losses in NCAA Tournament matchups. For her efforts during the Classic, Rasmussen was named the Most Valuable Player, while Iosia and Hellvig were named to the all-tournament team. Next week, the Wahine welcome Army West Point, Sacramento State, and Denver to Stan Sheriff Center for the Heineken Rainbow Wahine Invitational.
The Invitational begins for Hawai’i on Sep. 5 at 7 p.m. HST as the Rainbow Wahine take on Army West Point at the Stan Sheriff Center.