The University of Hawai‘i women’s volleyball team fell to Utah, 25-12, 24-26, 15-25, 23-25, Sunday during the 2017 Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Invitational championship match. Junior outside hitter McKenna Granato had a match-high 24 kills in the loss. Granato, senior middle hitter Emily Maglio and sophomore setter Norene Iosia were named to the all-tournament team.
“Losing is hard, but I can’t get mad at them. They’re fighting; they’re doing whatever we can,” head coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos said. “That’s a very, very physical team on the other side, athletic girls on the other side, and we just have to keep fighting.”
Hawai‘i battled back from a five-point deficit to take the first set 25-12. However, the ‘Bows could not continue the momentum of the first set, slipping to a 12-point deficit in the second set. The score was tied 12 times before Utah won out, taking the third set as well. Hawai‘i saved three match points in the fourth set and looked as though they would force a fifth, but the Utes eventually overcame them, taking the match.
“I think our passing went down, and our serving got a little bit ‘easier,’” Ah Mow-Santos said. “That was the big thing of the match, which took us out of system, and obviously, playing against a big block, yeah. But [if] we stay in system, I think we’re right there.”
Utah out-blocked the ‘Bows 19-15, with Utah senior middle Tawnee Lufalemana leading all scorers with 12 total. Senior libero Savannah Kahakai recorded a match-high 20 digs, and junior outside hitter Casey Castillo and senior defensive specialist Clare-Marie Anderson each had 10. Castillo, Kahakai and senior defensive specialist Gianna Guinasso recorded service aces.
“I told [Guinasso], coming out of the last game, ‘Hey, you gotta pop that serve, it’s got a good speed on it,” Ah Mow-Santos said. “But she came out with strategic serves when we wanted her to serve. … Not many of the girls can do that.”
Guinasso served a total of 19 times, recording the highest serving percentage on the team, .947. She had been practicing serving in the days leading up to the games. Ah Mow-Santos said she did “awesome.”
“I like [serving]. It’s like a chess match; it’s fun to play,” Guinasso said. “Being a defense specialist, you don’t get to hit, but it’s the one chance you get to mess with them as well.”
The Wahine are now 2-4 in non-conference victories, with two of those losses in five sets.
“Our fight, it’s still there,” Ah Mow-Santos said. “But hopefully it’s going to get better starting and finishing, instead of going up and down like a roller coaster.”
The ‘Bows face BYU this Thursday at 7 p.m HST.