Punahou grad Ma’a leads #1 UCLA to five set win over 5th ranked ‘Bows

Micah Ma'a

The University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team could not duplicate its feat from a night earlier, falling to No. 1 UCLA in five sets Saturday in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation series finale at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 22-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-18, 15-9.

The loss snapped UH’s 17-match home win streak dating back to last season. UH (9-2, 4-2 MPSF) also lost to the Bruins (11-1, 7-1) for the first time since 2013, snapping a win streak that reached five after Friday night’s four-set victory.

A season-high crowd of 5,436 saw the top-ranked Bruins rally from a two sets to one deficit mainly due to its tremendous block. UCLA recorded 19.5 total blocks while also hitting .374 as a team and limiting UH to a .208 clip. Middle blocker Mitch Stahl had a match-high 11 blocks while Jake Arnitz added eight.

The Warriors were led by outside hitter Sinisa Zarkovic, who tallied a match-high 20 kills while freshman opposite Stijn van Tilburg added 17 kills and nine digs. Libero Kolby Kanetake recorded 11 digs.

UCLA was led by Honolulu native Micah Ma’a, who finished with 18 kills, 23 assists, and six blocks. Ma’a, whose parents Pono and Lisa are former UH volleyball stars, hit .500 for the match. Arnitz added 13 kills.

Unlike Friday night, the Warriors got off to a good start, winning Sets 1 and 3, 25-22 and 25-19 respectively. Zarkovic tallied nine of his 20 kills in the opening frame, including on UH’s final two points.

After the Bruins tied the match at 1-1 with a 25-22 win in Set 2, Hawai’i got the advantage back in the match in Set 3. Back-to-back kills by van Tilburg gave UH a 18-14 lead and moments later, consecutive aces by Kupno Fey put the Warriors on top 22-15. UH posted four of its seven aces in the set.

UCLA took control of the match by dominating Sets 4 and 5, siding out at 84 percent in a 25-18 victory in the fourth set. The Bruins did not commit an error in 11 kill attempts in Set 5 while also recording three blocks and two aces. In fact, the Bruins hit .579 combined in the final two sets and Ma’a posted nine of his 18 kills.

The Rainbow Warriors will next hit the road for a pair of two-match MPSF series against Stanford, Feb. 12-13 and USC, Feb. 15-16.

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