For the third straight year, the Rainbow Warriors will face Long Beach State in the Big West Conference championship match.
Junior opposite Rado Parapunov’s 12 kills helped lead No. 2 Hawaiʻi (26-2, 8-2 BWC) past No. 3 UC Irvine (18-11, 5-6 BWC) in the semifinals on Friday night in front of a crowd of 8,534 at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 25-17, 25-16 and 25-15.
The first set started off as a back-and-forth battle as both teams were tied. Junior outside hitter Colton Cowell reeled off two consecutive kills to make it 4-2 'Bows, but a kill from UCI's Aaron Koubi and a service ace by Karl Apfelbach tied the set. The 'Bows went on a 4-0 run to lead 17-12 over the Anteaters. Back-to-back kills by Cowell and junior middle blocker Patrick Gasman made it 21-15 against the Anteaters. Parapunov ended the set with back-to-back aces as the 'Bows claimed set one 25-17.
Parapunov made six kills and hit .750 to lead the 'Bows.
UH jumped out to a strong 15-9 lead in the second set. The Warriors ended up scoring five of the last six points to take the set 25-16.
The third set began with senior setter Joe Worsley scoring the first point off of a sneaky kill. UH scored three points in a row into the following media timeout, leading 19-12. UH cruised the rest of the way, winning the match and securing another straight set victory 25-18.
Worsley also climbed up in the UH record books, passing ‘Bows legend Erik Pichel for ninth all time in career assists.
Tonight’s win extended the ‘Bows winning streak at the Stan Sheriff to 15 and secured the 14th straight-set victory at home.
The first serve for tomorrow’s Big West Championship between UH and No. 1 Long Beach State will be at 8 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.