LA JOLLA, Calif. – Where there’s a will, there’s a way and the University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team found it Saturday night, rallying to defeat UC San Diego in five sets and in the process capturing the eighth and final spot in next week’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. Set scores were 25-27, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21, 15-11.
Seemingly out of postseason contention in the final month of the season, the 14th-ranked Warriors (11-16, 10-14 MPSF) took advantage of Cal State Northridge’s season-ending slump as the Matadors lost their final five matches including Saturday’s match at Long Beach State earlier in the evening. UH had entered the final weekend of the regular season having lost four of six.
Hawai’i qualifies for the tournament as the No. 8 seed and will face top-seeded and the MPSF’s regular season champion BYU, Saturday, April 20 in Provo, Utah. The Warriors have qualified for the tournament three times under head coach Charlie Wade and returns to postseason play after missing the tournament last season.
For the second straight night, Hawai’i pulled out a match without two of its top players, starting outside hitters Sinisa Zarkovic and JP Marks. Opposite Brook Sedore carried the load with a career-high 31 kills on .489 hitting. No other Warrior reached double figures although middle blocker Taylor Averill had nine kills on .412 hitting and a team-high seven blocks.
As a team, UH hit .246 but out-blocked the Tritons (7-22, 4-20), 16 to 13.
For UCSD, Vaun Lennon came off the bench to lead the team with 14 kills after the Warriors held the Tritons’ top player, Carl Eberts to 10 kills with 10 errors in 28 attempts.
The first two sets went to deuce with UCSD winning the first and UH taking the second. In Set 3, the Tritons used a 9-2 run to break open a 21-13 lead and the Warriors could not recover.
With their postseason hopes on the line, UH got off to a quick 11-7 start to Set 4 before UCSD closed to 12-11. The teams traded side-outs until Sedore came up with a kill and solo block giving the Warriors a 22-19 lead. UCSD’s Sebastian Brady and Sedore matched kill for kill on the next four points until Sedore stuffed Brady one-on-one, giving the Warriors the 25-21 victory.
Playing its 13th five-set match of the season, the Warriors scored five straight in the middle of the set to take a 9-6 lead. The Tritons rallied to within 10-9 and one point later, the Warriors won an incredible rally – with middle blocker Nick West making two diving digs in the backrow and ending with a UH triple block on Eberts – for a 12-9 lead. The Warriors closed out the match with a Sedore kill down the middle and Jace Olsen kill on aloha ball.
*Courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*