(15) Hawai’i sweeps Pepperdine with dramatic 1st set comeback

Annie Mitchem / Hawai'i Athletics

HONOLULU—The University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (6-4, 0-0 Big West) got off to a slow start but then hit the afterburners to sweep Pepperdine, 29-27, 25-6, 25-18 on Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center with a crowd of 6,668. Nikki Taylor recorded her third double-double of the season and ripped a career-high seven service aces to lead Hawai’i while senior Annie Mitchem buried 10 kills in her 2016 debut.

Taylor tallied a match-high 13 kills and a match-high 11 digs to lead the ‘Bows. It marked the 17th time in her career that she’s recorded a double-double. Her seven aces was the most since Tayler Higgins had eight aces against New Mexico on Sept. 4, 2014. Taylor is now ranked No. 16 in UH’s all-time career kills list passing Maja Gustin (2000-03) who had 1,111. Taylor now has 1,123 kills in her four-year career.

Mitchem, who played for the first time in 344 days after missing the last 12 matches last season and the first nine matches this year due to injuries. She made an immediate impact on the team. She played for the first time in her life as a left-side hitter in place of Kirsten Sibley who has been out with flu-like symptoms for much of this week. Mitchem hit .320 with 10 kills and just two errors in 25 attacks. She also was in on one block and popped up three digs in the match.

Middle hitter Emily Maglio was very efficient, hitting .750 with 12 kills and no errors on 16 swings. She also added three blocks and set up the blocks well for the defense while also adding  a dig and an assist to fill her stat line.

Norene Iosia posted her fourth double-double of the season with 33 assists and 10 digs. She also added two service aces to bring her season total to 14.

As a team, Hawai’i recorded 11 aces–the most since the ‘Bows had 13 against New Mexico on Sept. 4, 2014. Hawai’i out-blocked the Waves, 6.0-to-4.0 and out-hit Pepperdine, 45-to-36 in kills and .350-to-.225 in hitting percentage.

In the first set, Hawai’i got out to an early four-point lead at 8-4, but Pepperdine would rally back, tying the score at 10-10 to start a 6-0 run which pushed the Waves out to a 14-10 lead behind the jump-serving of Hannah Frohling. Later in the set, Pepperdine looked to be in control, serving for set-point at 24-19, but then Hawai’i began their epic battle back. The comeback started with Taylor behind the service line. She ripped her first ace of the night and followed that with a pair of kills flying in from the back row. The Waves then called timeout, but Mitchem kept the momentum going with a kill of her own to knot the score at 24-24. UH and Pepperdine would tie three more times before UH finally was able to take a 28-27 lead off Taylor’s ninth kill of the first set and then UH ended it on an Iosia service ace to win 29-27. In all, UH staved off set point seven times to survive.

Hawai’i brought that momentum into the second set where once again behind the serving of Taylor, UH jumped out to an 8-0 lead. Hawai’i scored 11-straight points from the end of the first set through the beginning of the second. Taylor pounded four-straight aces to start the set and added another after a Pepperdine attack error. Shortly after, Higgins reeled off six serves with three consecutive kills by Maglio and one by McKenna Granato to give UH a 14-2 lead. Katiana Ponce ended the second set with her first ace of the season and eighth of her career. Hawai’i won the second set, 25-6 in the most lopsided set win since UH won 25-5 in set three at UC Riverside last season on Oct. 3, 2015.

The third set started much like the second, with Hawai’i racing out to a 5-0 lead from which the Waves could never quite recover from. Taylor started again from the service line, picking up her seventh and final ace of the match. UH ended the match winning six of the last seven points to take the third set, 25-18.

Pepperdine (6-5, 0-0 West Coast) was led by Nikki Lyons who had 10 kills. Jasmine Gross had a match-high four blocks and Heidi Dyer had seven digs to lead the Waves.

Hawai’i will face Pepperdine once more on Saturday, Sept., 17 at 7:00 pm. The UH match will follow the annual Alumnae Game which will be starting at 5:00 p.m.


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