LOS ANGELES — No. 1 University of Hawai‘i punched its ticket to the semifinal round of the NCAA tournament with a sweep over North Greenville in the NCAA quarterfinal round Tuesday night. The Rainbow Warriors won 25-15, 25-17, and 25-16 at host site Pauley Pavilion and will play the No. 2 seed in the tournament, No. 4 Ball State on Thursday.
Jakob Thelle set the new single-season program record for service aces, recording four in the match and his 55th overall. The setter recorded his first three service aces in the opening set of the match to tie Mark Presho and Clay Stanley’s record of 54 and hit #55 on the season early in the third set.
Thelle’s run at the service line in the middle stages of set one allowed Hawai‘i to take a 6-0 run to lead 16-6. From there, the team held on to win the opening set.
Spyros Chakas had a team-high 12 kills for Hawai‘i and also added four blocks and a service ace. The outside hitter had four kills in each set and ended the second set with a booming swing from the back row.
The second and third sets were similar as both started out slow before Hawai‘i used a scoring run to pull away from the Crusaders and maintain its lead all the way to set point.
Gregory Torres had 12 of North Greenville’s 23 kills in the match, as the Crusaders hit .062 over the three sets and were blocked at the net by Hawai‘i 10.5 times.
For Hawai‘i, Thursday’s semifinal match serves as a chance for redemption, as the Rainbow Warriors lost a pair of matches to Ball State in Muncie in January. The difference now is that they are expected to have Jakob Thelle, Guilherme Voss, and Chaz Galloway, who were unavailable in both matches either due to health and safety protocols or injury.
First serve for Thursday is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. HST.