The 12th ranked University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball players Nikki Taylor and Savanah Kahakai both earned Big West Conference weekly honors as announced on Monday. Taylor became the first Rainbow Wahine to ever be voted conference Player of the Week for three-consecutive weeks, while Kahakai earned her first ever Defensive Player of the Week accolade after both helped to lead UH to an upset over No. 2 Florida while sweeping all three matches in the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge last week.
Taylor averaged 4.75 kills, 2.25 digs, 1.33 blocks and 0.75 service aces per set to help the Rainbow Wahine take down San Diego State, Florida and Eastern Washington for the tournament title. She also hit .252 with a tournament-high 57 kills to go along with 27 digs, 16 blocks and nine service aces.
The 6-3 opposite from Honolulu and Kaiser High School came up big for the Rainbow Wahine in their thrilling, five-set win over the second-ranked Gators. Taylor slammed a career-best 27 kills and added a season-high 17 digs in the win. She hammered the set-winning kill in set two to knot the match at a set apiece and then delivered the final dagger on match point against Florida.
Taylor posted 11 kills and a season and game-high eight blocks in the sweep of the Aztecs. Against the Eagles, Taylor drilled a match-high 19 kills—nine of which came in the decisive fourth set—and had five stuffs at the net.
She has led the Rainbow Wahine in kills in all nine matches this season. Taylor also tied her career-high three times with three service aces in each contest.
It marks Taylor’s fourth Big West Player of the Week honor of her career. Taylor is just the third player in Big West history to be named Player of the Week three-straight times. Only Pacific’s Dominique Benton-Bozman (1995) and Long Beach State’s Antoinnett White (1991) have accomplished that feat. Both Benton-Bozman and White shared the weekly award with another player for their first week before winning it solo the following two weeks.
Taylor joins an elite club of just 11 Rainbow Wahine volleyball players to be selected a conference Player of the Week at least four times in their career. Kanani Danielson (WAC-10), Jamie Houston (WAC-9), Emily Hartong (BWC-8), Kim Willoughby (WAC-8), Angelica Ljungquist (BWC-3, WAC 5), Heather Bown (WAC-6), Lily Kahumoku (WAC-5), Juliana Saunders (4), Teee Williams (BWC-4), and Karrie Trieschman (BWC-4).
Kahakai, Hawai’i libero/defensive specialist, led UH in digs in all three of Hawai’i victories this week. The sophomore from Honolulu out of Farrington High School registered double-digit digs against San Diego State, Florida and Eastern Washington totaling 42 over the three tournament matches. She had 13 digs against the Aztecs and 10 versus the Eagles.
But, her best effort came when it was needed most—Kahakai notched a career-high 19 digs in Hawaii’s five-set takedown of the Gators. She also contributed in other ways, chipping in with eight assists and a service ace against Florida. Overall, Kahakai leads UH with 109 digs (3.41 per set).
UH also climbed 4 spots to 12th in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll released Monday, to view the poll click here
The Rainbow Wahine play their final non-conference matches of the season this weekend as they face Cal State Bakersfield of the Western Athletic Conference twice. The two teams will square off against each other on Friday, Sept. 18 at 7:00 pm and again on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 5:00 pm. UH’s match against the Roadrunners on Sunday will immediately follow the Rainbow Wahine’s annual Alumnae vs. Alumnae match which starts at 3:00 pm. All home matches are played at the Stan Sheriff Center.