The top-ranked University of Hawaiʻi men’s volleyball team extended its program-best win streak to 24 matches with a straight-set victory over No. 3 UC Santa Barbara Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. The set scores were 25-18, 25-22, 25-16.
Junior opposite Rado Parapunov led the way with 20 kills as Hawaiʻi (24-0) also extended its NCAA-record set win streak to 72. The ‘Bows have yet to lose a set, with their last set loss coming in an alumni exhibition match on January 25.
“They’ve worked really hard,” head coach Charlie Wade said. “They’re dialed in and really committed to playing well, playing for each other, and playing for the state of Hawaiʻi.”
Coming into tonight’s game, Parapunov was ranked No. 7 in the nation in kills, with senior outside hitter Stijn Van Tilburg not far behind at No. 11.
“I wasn’t happy with my blocking (tonight),” Parapunov said. “I just tried to do whatever I could to help the team win.”
Another standout for the Rainbow Warriors was senior setter Joe Worsley, though he seemed to have a different opinion. Despite finishing with a game-high 37 assists, Worsley, who leads the nation in assists per set, was disappointed with his own performance.
“I actually wasn’t thrilled with some of my decisions,” Worsley said. “I think I put my hitters in some tough situations and they bailed me out a lot.”
Redshirt junior middle blocker Patrick Gasman put the ‘Bows on the board first with his first kill of the night. UC Santa Barbara matched Hawaiʻi’s pace early in the set, tying the score twice. The Rainbow Warriors then began to pull away, going on a quick 5-0 run. The teams traded points for the rest of the set, but the ‘Bows closed out the set with a 6-3 run to win 25-18. van Tilburg led the team with 5 first-set kills.
Down one set, the Gauchos were looking to flip the script. van Tilburg’s kill gave Hawaiʻi the early lead, but a UCSB kill and two Rainbow Warrior errors gave the Gauchos their first lead of the night. A 3-0 ‘Bows run to retake the lead was matched quickly by UCSB’s own 3-0 run. Throughout the set, the lead changed hands 6 times, with the score reaching a stalemate 11 times. Hawaiʻi finally put the Gauchos down with a 6-2 run to close out the set and take the victory 25-22. Parapunov led the team with a set-high 10 kills.
After halftime, UCSB was looking to come out hot in the third set. The Gauchos put the first point on the board with an error from Worsley. The lead didn’t last very long, however, as the ‘Bows quickly took control of the set with a 15-6 run. UCSB rediscovered their scoring touch, but they were unable to slow down the red-hot Rainbow Warriors, who finished the set strong to take a 25-16 victory.
The ‘Bows return to the Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday April 6 at 7 p.m. for game two against UC Santa Barbara. It will also be senior night for van Tilburg, Worsley, Brett Rosenmeier and Dalton Solbrig.