GULF SHORES, Ala. – The University of Hawai’i advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships after a pair of elimination bracket wins on Saturday, including a heart-stopping 3-2 win over Florida State that will long be remembered.
The No. 5 Rainbow Wahine (29-6) will now face No. 3 Pepperdine with the winner taking on top-ranked USC for the NCAA title. First serve against the Waves will be at 10 a.m. CT/5:00 a.m. HT and will be streamed on NCAA.com. The championship match will be at 1:00 p.m. CT/8:00 a.m. HT and will be televised live on TBS.
In the first match of the day, the SandBows made quick work of LSU (27-8), taking less than 40 minutes to dispatch the Tigers. UH could thank the middle of the lineup for the victory with straight-set wins on Courts 2, 3, and 4. Carly Kan and Ari Homayun were steady as ever with a dominating 21-12, 21-13 win on Court 4. The No. 2 pair of Nikki Taylor and Ka’iwi Schucht and No. 3 pair of Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver closed out the match with a pair of wins that finished a mere seconds apart.
The win over LSU set up the second meeting in as many days against the Seminoles (29-9) with the loser sent packing. After defeating FSU to open the tournament, UH collided with the Seminoles once again in the most thrilling match of the tournament thus far. Kan and Homayun gave UH the first point of the day with a comfortable straight set win. But the four remaining courts went the full three sets, including two courts that went into overtime.
Maglio and Weaver put UH up 2-0 after a 21-16, 20-22, 15-7 win over Sierra Sanchez and Macy Jerger. But the Seminoles would win Courts 1 and 2 by a hair to even things up at 2-2.
The set the stage for a Court 5 battle pitting Amy Ozee and Hannah Zalopany against the Seminole’s Hailey Luke and Eva Torruella. The junior Zalopany and freshman Ozee weathered the crowd, wind, and multiple match points to pull off a marathon 27-25 set 3 win that avenged a Friday loss to the pair and propelled UH into Sunday’s championship round.
UH will now face Pepperdine (26-4) for the fourth time this season. The Waves took two of three matches in the regular season, however, the Rainbow Wahine won the last meeting in convincing fashion, 4-1, in Honolulu on April 8.
No. 5 Hawai’i 3, No. 7 LSU 0
1. Morgan Martin/Mikayla Tucker (UH) vs. Claire Coppola/Kristen Nuss (LSU) 19-21, 11-13, unfinished
2. Schucht/Taylor (UH) def. Emmy Allen/Maddie Ligon (LSU) 21-15, 21-13
3. Maglio/Weaver (UH) def. Olivia Powers/Katie Lindelow (LSU) 21-16, 21-12
4. Homayun/Kan (UH) def. Cati Leak/Callan Molle (LSU) 21-12, 21-13
5. Ozee/Zalopany (UH) vs. Riley Young/Morgan Davenport (LSU) 19-21, 16-16, unfinished
Order of finish: 4, 2, 3*
No. 5 Hawai’i 3, No. 4 Florida State 2
1. Leigh Andrews/Brooke Kuhlman (FSU) def. Martin/Tucker (UH) 21-14, 15-21, 17-15
2. Vanessa Freire/Victoria Paranagua (FSU) def. Schucht/Taylor (UH) 18-21, 21-19, 15-12
3. Maglio/Weaver (UH) def. Sanchez/Jerger (FSU) 21-16, 20-22, 15-7
4. Homayun/Kan (UH) def. Katie Hotron/Francesca Goncalves (FSU) 21-14, 22-20
5. Ozee/Zalopany (UH) def. Luke/Torruella (FSU) 21-17, 18-21, 27-25
Order of finish: 4, 3, 2, 1, 5*