#10 Rainbow Wahine win 9th straight

Nikki Taylor

RIVERSIDE, Calif.—The 10th-ranked University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team won its ninth-straight match with a three-set sweep at UC Riverside, 25-17, 25-15, 25-5. The Rainbow Wahine improved to 14-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big West, while the Highlanders fell to 6-10 overall and 1-2  in conference. UH’s Nikki Taylor led the way for the ‘Bows, tallying a match-high 14 kills with Emily Maglio coming through with a career-high seven blocks. Setter Kendra Koelsch, who made her first career start, also tallied a career-high six blocks while dishing out 33 assists at the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif on Saturday night. The win marked UH’s fifth-straight sweep and the 25-5 win in the third set tied UH’s largest margin of victory in a set in the program’s rally scoring history.

Taylor hit .448 on the night, notching her 14 kills with just one error in 29 attempts. She also chipped in with an ace, seven digs and four blocks. She now has double-digits in kills in 14-of-15 matches this season as has recorded the match-high in kills for UH in 13 matches thus far.

Middle hitter Maglio continued her strong play, hitting .455 for the match with five kills and no errors in 11 attacks. She also added two digs.

Tai Manu-Olevao was one kill shy of a double-double with nine kills and 11 digs with one block and one ace.

Hawai’i captured the first set, 25-17 led by Taylor’s seven kills in the frame. Koelsch led the ‘Bows with two blocks while Savanah Kahakai and Tai Manu-Olevao led UH with six digs apiece. There was concern for outside hitterKalei Greeley who went down with an injury in the middle of the set. She did not return to the match.

In the second set, UH jumped out to an 8-3 lead early on behind the serving of Taylor for five-straight points. But the Highlanders battled back to close the gap to 10-7. But the ‘Bows got back-to-back kills by Olivia Magill and Manu-Olevao plus a hitting error by UCR gave UH some breathing room at 13-7. UCR however would creep back into the match, to close the gap to 14-11. After a Hawai’i timeout, Taylor buried back-to-back kills to push the ‘Bows back to a five-point lead at 16-11. Hawai’i then pulled away in the end, winning five of the last six points to win 25-15.

In the third and final set, the Rainbow Wahine got off to a quick 6-0 lead with Koelsch serving five of the points. UH got kills from Taylor and MItchem and benefitted from four UCR errors. Manu-Olevao then served seven-straight to give UH a 14-1 lead. Manu-Olevao was replaced by Casey Castillo, who got another point off a Annie Mitchem kill to raise their lead to 15-1. Later, McKenna Granato served four points before being subbed for by Katiana Ponce who served match point with Castillo getting the match-winning kill.

UH’s Tayler Higgins missed her first start in 43 matches as she sat out due to an injury sustained in Friday’s match at Cal State Fullerton.

UC Riverside was led by Fabiana Rosas’ 10 kills and Maddi Hubbell had 12 digs. Meg Graham led the HIghlanders with five blocks.

Hawai’i out-hit UCR with 45-to-23 in kills and .319-to-.043 in hitting percentage. UH also out-blocked the HIglanders, 12.0-to-7.0 and in digs, 64-to-56.

Hawai’i returns home for a six-match homestand. This coming week is Homecoming for Hawai’i, the Rainbow Wahine will face CSUN on Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:00 pm and then defending Big West champions, Long Beach State on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 5:00 pm.

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