HONOLULU—The No. 11 University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team opened the Big West season with a bang, efficiently defeating UC Santa Barbara in straight sets, 25-13, 25-14, 25-19 on Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. Hawai’i improved to 11-1 overall and 1-0 in conference, while the Gauchos fell to 4-8, 0-1 in the Big West. Nikki Taylor led Hawai’i with a game-high 14 kills while Emily Maglio tied her career-high with a game-high six blocks with a crowd of 6,937 on hand.
Taylor kept her streak of double-digit kill games going at 14—including all 11 of UH’s matches thus far this season. She has led UH in kills in 11 out of UH’s 12 matches in 2015. Taylor also had five digs and two blocks in the match. Taylor had just one error in 28 attempts for a .464 average.
Maglio followed her career match last week by coming through with another solid performance. She drilled eight kills with no errors in 13 attacks for a .615 hitting percentage.
UH setter Taylor Higgins spread the offense tallying 35 assists with a .449 percentage. She also had a block, a service ace and 12 digs. Libero Savanah Kahakai recorded a team-high 18 digs with an ace as Hawai’i popped up 53 digs in three sets with an overall side out percentage of 83%. The ‘Bows outblocked the Gauchos, 10.0-to-3.0 while the offense hit .365 and had just six hitting errors in the match.
In the first set, both teams traded points early on, but UCSB inched out to an early three point lead at 5-2. But the ‘Bows, racked up several serving runs to pull away from the Gauchos in the first set. behind the serving of Kahakai, tied and over took the Gauchos on a four-point run, 6-5. Later UH pulled away with Taylor behind the service line to go on a five point run fueled by kills by Maglio, Kalei Greeley, and two back-row kills by Taylor. UH won the final five points with Greeley on a serving roll, but all five points came off of UCSB errors. The Rainbow Wahine won the first set going away, 25-13.
The ‘Bows kept rolling in the second set getting points in bunches. Clare Marie Anderson went on a six point run as the server which was highlighted by kills by Olivia Magill, Taylor and two by Tai Manu-Olevao. Later, Taylor went on a serving run again, stringing six-straight points with Gianna Guinasso serving the last point. UH cruised to a 25-14 second set win. Manu-Olevao boomed five of her nine kills in the second set alone.
In the third set, Hawai’i did not get their point in streaks, but slowly pulled away from UCSB for a 25-19 win to sweep the Gauchos. Hawai’i’s passing was on-point, which allowed its offense to click on all cylinders. Five different Rainbow Wahine had kills in the final set, led by Manu-Olevao, Taylor and Maglio who all had four apiece. UH had 15 kills in 30 swings with just two errors.
UCSB was led by Chanel Hoffman who had seven kills and Emilia Petrachi had a game-high 19 digs.
The Rainbow Wahine have now won 30 of their 31 conference home openers. UH’s only blemish on their record came against Long Beach State in 1991.
Hawai’i concludes its 13-match homestand on Saturday, with its second conference match against Cal Poly (8-3, 0-0 Big West). The Mustangs are off to its best start since 2005. UH and Cal Poly will square off at 7:00 p.m. in the Stan Sheriff Center.