Rainbow Wahine hit the road to open Big West Conference play

NCAA Women's Volleyball Match between the UCLA Bruins and the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine on Saturday, Sept. 3rd, 2016 at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, HI. (Photo by Andrew Lee / HMSWIRE)
NCAA Women's Volleyball Match between the UCLA Bruins and the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine on Saturday, Sept. 3rd, 2016 at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, HI. (Photo by Andrew Lee / HMSWIRE)

The No. 14 University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (7-4, 0-0 Big West) will travel to California for their first trip of the season as the squad begins defense of its 2015 Big West title as they open conference season at UC Santa Barbara (9-4, 0-0 BWC) and at Cal Poly (7-4, 0-0 BWC). The Rainbow Wahine will take on the Gauchos on Friday, Sept. 23, followed by Cal Poly on Saturday, Sept. 24. Both matches are slated to start at 4:00 p.m. (HST).

Hawai’i is coming off a pair of wins over Pepperdine this past week. UH swept the Waves on Friday and won in four sets on Saturday to improve their record to 7-4 overall.

Senior Nikki Taylor earned her second Big West Player of the Week honor this season and ninth overall for her all-around efforts against Pepperdine this past week. The 6-4 opposite from Honolulu, O’ahu (Kaiser HS), averaged 3.86 kills, 2.71 digs, 0.86 blocks and 1.57 service aces and had team highs of 27 kills, 11 aces and 41.0 points to lead Hawai’i in the two matches on consecutive nights. Overall, even though she missed the first three matches of the season, Taylor leads the conference in kills per set (5.41), aces per set (0.93) and points per set (6.78). She is currently ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in aces and points per set. Taylor also leads the league in attacks per set (12.07) and total service aces (25).

Fellow senior Annie Mitchem filled the role as one of UH’s leftside hitters last week with rookie Kirsten Sibley sitting out due to illness. Although Mitchem had never played leftside in her life before, she filled in admirably, notching 21 kills, three blocks and two aces in two matches. Mitchem, who missed the first nine matches this year and the last 12 last season due to injury, will look to shift over back to her normal middle hitter position soon.

Sophomore McKenna Granato is second on the team with 132 kills and 3.30 kills per set. Granato is also tied for third on the team with 71 digs and she has 11 blocks this season. She is second on the team with 145.0 points (3.62 per set). In UH’s final game against Pepperdine, she hit .344 with a match-high 17 kills with six errors on 32 attacks. Granato was just one dig shy of notching her second career double-double.

UC Santa Barbara was off to its best start since the 2009 season. They are led by freshman Lindsey Ruddins who has had a strangle-hold on the BWC Freshman of the Week award for the first three weeks. She leads the Gauchos with 196 kills (4.45 p/s) and is second on the team with 31 blocks—including 11 solo. She has 219 total points and is also second on the team with 96 digs. Chanel Hoffman is averaging 3.11 kills per set and has put down 137 kills thus far while Phoebe Grunt leads the league with a .410 hitting percentage and has a team-high 42 blocks (0.95 p/s).

This will be Cal Poly’s home opener after beginning the season with 11-straight road matches. Last season, Cal Poly posted a 7-3 home record. The Mustangs have four players who have already posted over 100 kills thus far, led by sophomore Adlee Van Winden, last year’s Big West Freshman of the Year, who is averaging 3.39 kills per set with 149 kills overall. She also has 17 blocks this season and is tied for the team lead with 14 aces. Raeann Greisen is second on the team averaging 2.98 kills per set with 131 total kills overall. Taylor Gruenewald is second in the league hitting at a .329 clip with 101 kills and she leads the Mustangs with 28 total blocks.

Match 12 Information
Who: 
No. 14 Hawai’i (7-4, 0-0 Big West) vs. UC Santa Barbara (9-4, 0-0 BWC)
When: Friday, Sept. 23 at 4:00 pm (HST)
Where: Santa Barbara, Calif.  (Thunderdome)
Streaming Video: Hawai’i’s match at UCSB can be viewed at BigWest.tv
Radio: UH’s match against the Gauchos can be heard on ESPN1420am with Tiff Wells covering the play-by-play.
Audio Webcast: Fans can listen to the UH match at UC Santa Barbara online at http://www.espn1420am.com.
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at http://www.ucsbgauchos.com
Series Record: UH has a 37-8 record against the Gauchos. Last season UH defeated the Gauchos at home in three sets, 25-13, 25-14, 25-19 on (Sept. 25, 2015). The ‘Bows swept UCSB in their final match of the regular season, 25-16, 25-21, 25-19 (Nov. 21, 2015).

Match 13 Information
Who: 
No. 14 Hawai’i (7-4, 0-0 Big West) vs. Cal Poly (7-4, 0-0 BWC)
When: Saturday, Sept. 24 at 4:00 pm (HST)
Where: San Luis Obispo, Calif.  (Robert A. Mott Athletics Center– 3,032)
Streaming Video: Hawai’i’s match at Cal Poly can be viewed at BigWest.tv
Radio: UH’s match against the Mustangs can be heard on ESPN 1420 am with Tiff Wells covering the play-by-play.
Audio Webcast: Fans can listen to the UH match at Cal Poly online at http://www.espn1420am.com.
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at gopoly.com
Series Record: Hawai’i has a 38-4 record against Cal Poly. Last season, UH defeated the Mustangs at home in three sets, 25-20, 25-12, 25-19 (Sept. 26, 2015) in the opening weekend of conference play. UH then swept Cal Poly on the road on Nov. 19, 2015, 25-17, 25-19, 25-18.

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