Rainbow Wahine survive scare in NCAA tournament

Hawaii Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Nikki Taylor delivered a match-high 21 kills and the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine volleyball team twice rallied from a set down to top Texas Christian University in five sets in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament on Friday at Reed Arena. Set scores were 17-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21, 15-13.

Taylor was one of five ‘Bows to hit double figures in kills. Olivia Magill recorded a career-high 19 kills at an impressive team-best .472 clip. Savanah Kahakai added a match-high 23 digs and Kalei Greeley posted a double-double with 16 kills and a career-best 17 digs. Tayler Higgins dished out a career-high 65 assists.

Regan McGuire led TCU with 16 kills and hit at a match-high .517 clip while putting down nine blocks, also a match high. Sarita Mikals had a double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs while adding three blocks.

The ‘Bows (27-1) let a late five-point lead slip away in set three but found a way to outlast the Horned Frogs (19-10) in the final two sets. UH now advances to play the winner of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and host Texas A&M with a trip to Iowa and the Des Moines Regional on the line.

The ‘Bows got off to a tough start in the first frame, allowing seven straight points from the Horned Frogs, followed by another six-point run to trail 13-4. TCU maintained its large margin for most of the set before winning 25-17.

The second set saw another quick TCU start who went up 8-4 and looked on its way to a commanding two-set lead. This time the ‘Bows responded and worked their way back to even the set at 16-16. A trio of points from the Horned Frogs would put TCU up 19-17, forcing UH to call a timeout. Returning from the break, the ‘Bows seized the momentum and tied the match on an Aloha Ball kill from Taylor.

Set three began in similar fashion. An early four-point TCU lead evaporated as three quick Hawai’i points midway through the set tied the score at 14-14. The Rainbow Wahine continued to push through the second half of the set, reaching set point at 24-19. TCU would run off seven straight points to erase UH’s lead and take the third set 26-24.

Despite all the momentum swung TCU’s way, UH found away to extend the match to a fifth set. The Rainbow Wahine battled through the early points of game four, until finally breaking through with a 20-17 lead. The Horned Frogs would not go away but UH was able to close it out, winning 25-21.

The tension-filled fifth set featured back-and-forth action until Hawai’i pulled away 14-11 just before calling a timeout. The ‘Bows went to their bread and butter, setting Taylor the ball for the game-winning kill.

First serve at Reed Arena on Saturday, Dec. 5 is set for 6:30 p.m. CT (2:30 p.m. HT) and will be covered by ESPN3 online and ESPN 1420 AM on the radio.

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