PROVO, Utah – The University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team played with grit and determination but its season came to an end with a questionable call on match point in the quarterfinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. An apparent UH point was reversed giving top-seeded BYU a come-from-behind five-set victory Saturday at Smith Fieldhouse.
Set scores were 25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 25-12, 15-13.
With the Cougars (23-4) holding match point at 14-13 in the fifth set, the referees ruled UH middle blocker Nick West under the net after a BYU kill attempt, which was dug up by the Warriors. No call was initially made and UH’s Jace Olsen ended the point with a kill. However, following the point, the down referee conferred with the up referee and the point was changed giving BYU the victory. Replays showed West’s left foot crossed the centerline.
In the aftermath, the referees later ruled that the call was an illegal set by UH setter Joby Ramos, who jumped-set Olsen’s potential game-tying kill attempt while in the back row. Confusion still ensued as other game officials were told the call was an illegal backrow attack by Olsen, although Olsen was a front row player on that play.
Either way, the Warriors saw their season come to an end after an improbable run into the postseason. UH finished 11-17 while BYU moves on to host the MPSF semifinals and finals next week in Provo.
Without two of its top players in the starting rotation for the second straight week, UH head coach Charlie Wade tinkered with his line-up and it worked for most of the match. Middle blocker Taylor Averill moved to outside hitter and the sophomore tallied a career-high 16 kills on .393 hitting. He along with opposite Brook Sedore (18 kills) combined for 34 of the team’s kills.
Olsen, playing in place of regular starters JP Marks (eligibility) and Sinisa Zarkovic (foot), finished with nine kills and three aces while middle blocker Davis Holt added eight kills hitting .318. UH finished the match hitting .319 as a team.
BYU was led by Ben Patch’s match-high 25 kills on .465. The Warriors held MPSF Player of the Year Taylor Sander in check as the junior finished with 13 kills hitting .226. The Cougars hit .369 and tallied 9.5 team blocks.
UH got off to a horrible start in Set 1 at 9-2 and could not make up that deficit in a 25-19 loss. However, the tide turned in Hawai’i's favor in Set 2 as the Warriors hit .478 to take the game 25-20. UH scored the last three points in Set 3 for a 25-22 victory and two sets to one lead.
BYU roared back to win Set 4 in convincing fashion at 25-12 sending the match to a fifth set, UH’s 14th of the season. No team held more than a two point lead in Set 5. After the Warriors erased an 11-9 deficit to tie the score at 11, the teams traded point for point until Patch’s kill ended a rally giving BYU match point.
On match point, BYU’s Josue Rivera ripped a serve but the Cougars’ overpass kill attempt for the point was dug up miraculously by Matthew Cheap and during the play, West and Ramos got tangled and West’s foot crossed the centerline. As the play ensued, Olsen ended the point with a down-the-line kill until the officials overruled the play and gave BYU the point.
Cheape ended his UH career with six digs.