HONOLULU – For the second straight night, the sixth-ranked University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team took the nation's top-ranked team Long Beach State to the limit and unlike the previous night, the Rainbow Warriors came away with a five-set victory, Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11 in a match that lasted one minute shy of three hours.
The Rainbow Warriors (18-7, 6-4 BWC) spoiled the Beach's perfect season, handing them their first loss in 25 matches. With the win UH locked up the No. 2 seed in next week's Big West Tournament in Long Beach, Calif., by virtue of winning a tie-breaker with UC Irvine.
Following the match libero Larry Tuileta and defensive specialist Mamane Namahoe were honored during the traditional "Senior Night" ceremony that included lei from family and friends, a tribute video, and an impromptu haka by the team. Tuileta wrapped up his final home match with 15 digs.
The 49ers (24-1, 9-1) will host the Big West Tournament at The Pyramid and are the No. 1 seed. Both LBSU and UH earn first round byes and will next play in Friday's semifinals.
Opposite Rado Parapunov led the Warrior attack with 19 kills, hitting .256 while outside hitter Stijn van Tilburg added 17 kills and three service aces. Middle blockers Dalton Solbrig and Patrick Gasman each had nine kills while Gasman had a match-high seven blocks.
Setter Joe Worsley led the UH offense to a team hitting percentage of .328, compared to .311 for the Beach, who was led by TJ DeFalco's 25 kills and 10 digs. Kyle Ensing added 14 kills and two aces for the 49ers.
Unlike Friday's loss, which UH failed to capitalize on four match points, Saturday's match ended with the Warriors scoring the final four points of the match. On Friday, freshman defensive specialist Gage Worsleycommitted a costly service ace with UH holding a 14-12 lead. With the Warriors holding a 13-11 lead on Saturday, he came through with an ace, giving Hawai'i match point. Parapunov ended it with his 19thkill.
Just like the previous night, the teams traded the first two sets with UH winning the first and LBSU taking the second. In a pivotal Set 3, the 49ers strung together three straight points for a 21-18 lead and sided-out the rest of the way with van Tilburg committing a net violation on set point.
UH rallied in Set 4, using a 6-1 run for a 12-8 lead and held a 19-13 advantage after an ace by Austin Matautia. UH would go on to take the set at 25-20 and even the match.
In the deciding fifth set, consecutive kills by van Tilburg gave UH a 6-3 lead but the Beach answered back to tie it at 8-8 after DeFalco stuffed Parapunov. The score was tied twice more at 10 and 11 before the Warriors closed out the match.