The No. 9 University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team defeated No. 3 UC Santa Barbara, 22-25, , 25-23, 25-19, 25-19, Sunday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. UH swept the two-match series, improving to a 5-1, 2-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record.
It was a team effort by the Rainbow Warriors, with five recording 10+ kills each. Zarkovic had a team-high 17 kills, a match-high and career-high 15 digs, and also added three blocks. Meanwhile, outside hitter Kevin Donohue led the match with 18 kills, hitting at .444 percent for the UCSB (4-2, 0-2 MPSF).
Senior outside hitter Brook Sedore (13 kills) opened the night with two kills in a row, setting off a 6-1 run for UH early on in Set 1. However, after committing a service and hitting error back-to-back, the ‘Bows lost their footing, as the Gauchos outscored them 7-2 to tie it 11-11. Sedore immediately answered with another kill to put UH back ahead, but the ‘Bows couldn’t shake off the Gauchos, as UCSB tied it again five times to follow before dishing out four consecutive kills to take the first set 25-22.
The ‘Bows rallied back-and-forth with the Gauchos in an intense Set 2, and despite UCSB’s slight edge on UH for most of the game, they did not trail by more than three-points throughout. Zarkovic pulled through in the final stretch, with back-to-back kills to tie it 20-20. The Gauchos buckled under pressure, committing four errors in a row, handing over Set 2 to UH, 25-23.
UH started off Set 3 with a commanding 10-6 lead after pulling off a 5-1 run early on and led by as many as five-points halfway through. The Gauchos matched the ‘Bows point-for-point attempting a come-back, but fell short in the end, with middle blocker Davis Holt’s ninth kill of the night capping the set 25-19. Holt tallied a season-high 10 kills, and a team-high 5 blocks.
UCSB opened Set 4 running neck-and-neck with UH. Sophomore outside hitter Kupono Fey pounded out his 13th kill of the night to set off a five-point run for the ‘Bows, giving them a dominating 20-11 advantage. Fey netted a career-high 14 kills, and also added nine digs against the Gauchos. After the run, UCSB never recovered, handing over two service-error points to UH, followed by kills by Zarkovic, senior Taylor Averill (10 kills, four blocks), and Holt to win the match.
The ‘Bows will next face UC Irvine in their road-opener, Jan. 28 as they look to advance their conference record.