GULF SHORES, Ala. – The University of Hawai’i team split two matches on the opening day of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship, taking down No. 4 seed Florida State, 3-1, before falling to top-seed and defending national champion USC, 3-0.
The Rainbow Wahine (27-6) will next face LSU on Saturday in an elimination match at 9:10 a.m HT. The first-ever meeting between the school’s will be televised live on truTV. UH will need to win two matches on Saturday in order to advance to Sunday’s championship round.
The fifth-seed Rainbow Wahine avenged a regular-season loss to Florida State (28-7) in their first match to advance to the winner’s bracket. UH’s match against the Seminoles was as close a you could get. The teams split the first two courts, including a straight set win by Mikayla Tucker and Morgan Martin—the Big West Pairs Team of the Year—at the top of the order. The middle of the order would ultimately decide the match and it would go down to the wire with Courts 2, 3, and 4 going to a third set.
Carly Kan and Ari Homayun put UH up 2-1 with a 21-14, 16-21, 15-9 win over Francesa Goncalves and Katie Horton at the No. 4 court. It was the 14th straight win for the pair, tying a school record of consecutive overall wins. Moments later Nikki Taylor and Ka’iwi Schucht clinched the third and decisive point with a 21-16, 18-21, 15-13 win over Vanessa Freire and Victoria Paranagua at Court No. 2.
UH advanced to the winners bracket were they met USC for the second time this year. But unlike the first match, UH could not avenge its regular season loss to the Trojans (36-1), who moved on to the tournament semifinals with a 3-0 win.
The match, however, was closer than the score indicated as Courts 2 and 5 were moving to a third set and close losses by UH on Courts 1 and 4. The Trojans stopped a pair of red-hot Rainbow Wahine. Homayun and Kan saw their school-record 14-match win streak come to a close with a tight 21-18, 25-23 loss to Abril Bustamante and Joy Dennis. Meanwhile Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver had their eight-match win streak halted by Nicolette Martin and Terese Cannon (USC), 21-19, 21-13 at the No. 3 flight.
No. 5 Hawai’i 3, No. 4 Florida State 1
1. Tucker/Martin (UH) def. Leigh Andrew/Brooke Kuhlman (FSU) 21-15, 21-14
2. Schucht/Taylor (UH) def. Freire/VParanagua (FSU) 21-16, 18-21, 15-13
3. Weaver/Maglio (UH) vs. Sierra Sanchez/Macy Jerger (FSU) 21-23, 21-19, 17-17, unfinished
4. Kan/Homayun (UH) def. Goncalves/Horton (FSU) 21-14, 16-21, 15-9
5. Hailey Luke/Eva Torruella (FSU) def. Amy Ozee/Hannah Zalopany (UH) 21-16, 22-20
Order of finish: 5,1,4,2*
No. 1 USC 3, No. 5 Hawai’i 0
1. Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Martin/Tucker (UH) 21-17, 22-20
2. Schucht/Taylor (UH) vs. Sophie Bukovec/Allie Wheeler (USC) 21-12, 10-21, 3-6, unfinished
3. Nicolette Martin/Terese Cannon (USC) def. Laurel Weaver/Emily Maglio (UH) 21-19, 21-13
4. Abril Bustamante/Joy Dennis (USC) def. Carly Kan/Ari Homayun (UH) 21-18, 25-23
5. Ozee/Zalopany (UH) vs. Jenna Belton/Jo Kremer (USC) 12-21, 21-15, unfinished
Order of finish: 3, 4, 1*