PISMO BEACH, Calif. – The University of Hawai’i began defense of its 2016 Big West title with a 4-1 victory over Cal Poly on the opening day of the Big West Beach Volleyball Tournament Friday afternoon at Pismo Beach. With the win, UH (24-5) advanced to Saturday’s winners bracket where they will face nemesis and top-seed Long Beach State at 10 a.m. PT/7 a.m. HT.
The win over No. 3 seeded Cal Poly (13-22) was UH’s fourth this year over the Mustangs, all by identical 4-1 counts. But unlike the previous three meetings, the host Mustangs put in a serious upset bid as the second-seeded UH needed to go three sets on the final two courts to secure the win.
The No. 3 seed Mustangs blanked No. 6 seed Cal State Bakersfield 5-0 earlier in the day to meet up with the No. 2 seed Sandbows, who earned a first-round bye. Ari Homayun and Carly Kanpicked up UH’s first points of the day with a straight set sweep on Court No. 4. It was the 11th straight victory for the duo.
The Mustangs evened the score after a straight-set win of their own as Adlee Van Winden and Taylor Nelson took down Nikki Taylor and Kaiwi Schucht (UH) 21-18, 21-17 at the No. 2 flight. UH went up 2-1 by virtue of Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver‘s two-set win at Court No. 3.
The match boiled down to the No. 1 and No. 5 flights, both of which would be decided in three sets. Hannah Zalopany and Amy Ozee ultimately clinched the decisive third point of the match at No. 5 by rallying from a set down to win 19-21, 21-15, 15-9 over Dora Bellin and Brayden Gruenewald. Moments later at the No. 1 court, Morgan Martin and Mikayla Tucker wrapped things up with a 21-16, 16-21, 15-13 win.
UH now readies itself for another showdown with rival Long Beach State (25-6), which advanced with a 4-1 win over No. 5 seed Sacramento State. The 49ers defeated the SandBows, 3-2, in the Big West Challenge in Huntington Beach earlier this month. Last year, Hawai’i defeated LBSU twice in the tournament to claim the inaugural title.
The victor of tomorrow’s match will move on to the championship. The loser will face a much tougher road, needing three straight wins the rest of the day to claim the title in the double-elimination tournament.
(2) Hawai’i 4, (3) Cal Poly 1
1. Martin/ Tucker (UH) def. Emily Sonny/Hannah Hubbard (CP) 21-16, 16-21, 15-13
2. Van Winden/Nelson (CP) def. Taylor/ Schucht (UH) 21-18, 21-17
3. Weaver/ Maglio (UH) def. Raeann Greisen/ Holland Boege (CP) 24-22, 21-18
4. Kan/Homayun (UH) def. Anna Gorman/Savannah Niemen (CP) 21-13, 21-18
5. Huddleston/ Ozee (UH) def. Bellin/Gruenewald (CP) 19-21, 21-15, 15-9
Order of Finish: 4, 2, 3, 5, 1