For as many hitting errors that the Rainbow Wāhine volleyball team had, they were still in contention for much of Friday night’s match against USC before losing to them in four sets at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
“Not saying that USC didn’t play — they’re obviously a good team. They came out and they played,” Hawai‘i coach Robyn Ah Mow said. “With all those errors and two hitters hitting negative, it’s still like a deuce game. There are no excuses. We got to be better.”
Hawai‘i hit .155 with 32 attacking errors in the 25-23, 24-26, 27-25, and 25-20 loss to the Trojans. The Rainbow Wāhine also had 10 errors from behind the service line, hitting serves long at critical points of the match.
“Every set we played except for the last set, we lose by two points. Two of our hitters are hitting negative and we lose every set by two points,” Ah Mow said. “If we had that many errors, we should be losing 25-15, 25-14. We have 15 errors — at least — in each set. That’s half the game.”
Hawai‘i outside hitter Caylen Alexander recorded her second consecutive double-double of the season with a team-high 13 kills to go with 10 digs. The freshman also had a team-high five service aces and helped the Rainbow Wahine set up scoring runs with her serve, keeping them in the game with the high number of errors they had.
“I said in the locker room that she probably has the best serve right now,” Ah Mow said. “One that we can say, ‘She’s going back and we could possibly get some points right now.’”
Both USC and Hawai‘i had scoring runs that elevated them ahead, but the unforced errors from the Rainbow Wāhine allowed USC to take the lead in the latter stages of the first set. Hawai‘i fought off two set points before USC’s Jordan Wilson hit her fifth kill of the match to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
One of the many strong serving runs from Alexander during the match helped the Rainbow Wāhine stay in contention in the second set. Alexander’s back-to-back kills forced a 24-24 deuce and a 25-24 set point, before Amber Igiede’s serve tickled the tape to lock up the set win.
Hawai‘i had fewer errors in the third set and was on the verge of taking the set, but USC forced a 24-24 deuce and had a set point. Riley Wagoner’s ninth kill of the match forced a 25-25 deuce before her serve went long and gave USC set point once again. USC’s ensuing serve from Wilson tickled the tape and fell to give USC a 2-1 lead.
Although the Rainbow Wāhine opened the fourth set with a lead, four service errors and nine attack errors in the set allowed USC to jump in front, reaching match point while being up nine points. Hawai‘i fought off five match points with Igiede at the service line, but the deficit was too big as USC’s Kalyah Williams put down the game-winning kill.
“It felt like we got momentum, but if I’m being honest, we should have gotten momentum way before that,” Igiede said. “It was just way too late. We shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.”
USC’s Skylar Fields led the Trojans in kills with 14, while Wilson added 12 kills of her own. Trojans setter Mia Tuaniga had a double-double with 38 assists and 14 digs.
Hawai‘i libero Tayli Ikenaga had a season-high 18 digs. Wagoner had nine digs to go with 12 kills, although the Rainbow Wāhine floor captain hit -.022 overall.
The Rainbow Wāhine return to play USC at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center tonight at 7 p.m. HST. There will also be a “field day” at the Clarence T. C. Ching Athletics Complex prior to the match from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., celebrating Rainbow Wāhine athletics and the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
Spectrum OC16 will televise the match and ESPN Honolulu will have the radio broadcast after the Hawai‘i-Michigan football game.