COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Nikki Taylor delivered 14 kills, Savanah Kahakai added a match-high 19 digs and the No. 7 University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine volleyball team dominated Texas A&M in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, sweeping the host Aggies on Saturday to earn a trip to the Sweet 16. Set scores were 25-22, 25-19, 25-20.
The ‘Bows (28-1), winners of 23 straight matches, will play Penn State on Friday, Dec. 11 in the NCAA regional semifinal held in Des Moines, Iowa. Illinois and second-seeded Minnesota booked their tickets as well to complete the four-team regional field.
The ‘Bows played with the lead for most of the match including a dominating start to set three, racing out to an early lead and cruising to the win. Taylor led a well-balanced Rainbow Wahine effort with her match-high 14 kills to go along with eight digs. Kalei Greeley was on point the entire match, recording no errors and putting down 10 kills at an impressive .625 clip.
Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers both had 10 kills to lead the 10th-seeded Aggies who close their season at 24-7.
Set one saw both teams play even until four straight points by the Aggies lifted them to a 12-8 lead. Passing issues for Hawai’i were the story early as TAMU created some separation early. The ‘Bows did not let the set get away from them though, using a 6-1 run to grab an 18-16 lead and force an Aggie timeout. Hawai’i maintained its advantage down the stretch with an Emily Maglio (9 kills) kill, her sixth of the set, sealing the win.
Olivia Magill (10 kills, 5 blocks) helped the ‘Bows get off to a great start in set two, recording a block and a kill to lift her team to a 5-1 lead. Texas A&M would find its way into the set and evened the score at 8-8. The ‘Bows would reclaim the lead though as a pair of kills each from Greeley and Taylor put UH up 15-12. Sullivan’s kill kept the Aggies in striking distance at 19-17 but down the stretch it were Magill’s back-to-back kills and a 6-2 run that put UH one set away from victory.
There was no let up by the ‘Bows coming out of the locker room for set three. Greeley’s ace capped a 6-1 run and, in the blink of an eye, the Rainbow Wahine were up 9-4. The lead swelled to 13-5 as the ‘Bows never looked back, rushing the floor after Magill’s kill into the backcourt clinched the win.