The University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team saw its 26-match home win streak come to an end in a four-set loss to No. 2 UCLA Sunday in a non-conference match at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 32-30.
In another thrilling match in front of a playoff atmosphere, the match was reminiscent of Friday’s four-set win by Hawai’i. The Bruins (8-1) rebounded from a one-set deficit for the victory much like UH did two nights earlier.
UH (7-1) lost for the first time at home since March 4, 2016 against BYU and also saw its 24-match regular season, non-conference win streak halted. But not before a frenzied crowd of 4,706 that saw the Rainbow Warriors erase seven match points in the fourth set.
With the score tied at 30 in Set 4, UCLA setter Micah Ma’a crashed into the scorers table but not before remarkably setting a perfect ball to Christian Hessenauer who put down his 20th kill. On the next play, Hessenauer’s serve fell to the floor in front of Colton Cowell to end the match.
UH opposite Rado Parapunov finished with a team-high 18 kills, hitting .419. But it was reserves Cowell and Austin Matautia, who ignited the Warriors. Both entered at the start of the third set and helped to stabilize UH’s passing. Cowell finished with five kills, two aces and three blocks while Matautia had nine kills, hitting .438.
Stijn van Tilburg was also clutch in Set 4. The Amsterdam, Netherlands native helped erase four of UCLA’s seven match point with kills. The junior tallied 13 kills on the night.
But it wasn’t enough as Honolulu-native Ma’a willed the Bruins to victory. The senior finished with 46 assists, two aces, and six digs and led UCLA to a combined hitting percentage of .481 in Sets 2-4, including .593 in the second set.
After both teams split the first two sets, head coach Charlie Wade went with Cowell and Matautia in place of a struggling Brett Rosenmeier and van Tilburg. The teams went back-and-forth for most of the set until the Bruins scored three of four points to take a 19-18 lead. UCLA got the upper hand on a long rally, eventually stuffing Parapunov for a 22-20 lead. UCLA, which did not commit a hitting error in the set, finished it with a back row kill by Dylan Missry.
Down 11-6 in Set 4, Wade turned to his bench again as van Tilburg replaced Parapunov at opposite. Matautia then came out on fire with three kills and the Warriors rallied to tie at 14 after a Patrick Gasman overpass kill. The Bruins took a 20-17 lead with the help an overturned call on replay challenge but the Warriors rallied again to tie it at 21. The match was tied eight more times, seven with the Bruins serving for the match. After a Gasman kill, the Bruins somehow won the next point as Ma’a made an incredible save on UH’s side of the court while crashing into press row that set up Hessenauer’s go-ahead kill.
The Warriors next host the inaugural Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger Classic, Feb. 1-3, featuring Lees-McRae, Thompson Rivers, and professional team Academy United.