The No. 15 University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (2-2, 0-0 Big West) swept Missouri State to open the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22. Senior opposite Nikki Taylor made her 2016 debut with a bang, notching her 1,000th kill and finishing the match with a double-double of 21 kills and 11 digs on Thursday night in the Stan Sheriff Center.
Taylor, who missed last week’s season opening tournament with an elbow injury, made the most of her return to the Teraflex. She hit a phenomenal .529 hitting percentage with her match-high 21 kills and just three errors in 34 swings. Taylor also added a pair of aces and four blocks to help lead the UH roofing company to 9.0 blocks. With her ninth kill of the night, Taylor became just the 19th Rainbow Wahine to join the 1,000 kill club. She entered this season with 991 kills. Taylor is the first Hawai’i player since Emily Hartong accomplished the feat in 2013. Taylor finished the night with 1,012 career kills. Taylor is just the fifth local player to hit the 1,000 kill mark (Lily Kahumoku – 1,762; Kanani Danielson – 1,760; Reydan “Tita” Ahuna – 1,411; Aneli Cubi-Otineru – 1,027).
Freshman outside hitter Kirsten Sibley notched her second double-digit kill performance of the year, tying her season-high with 13 kills and she had one block. Junior libero Savanah Kahakai kept her double-digit dig streak alive at four as she recorded a match-high 15 digs. Freshman setter Norene Iosia got her second-straight start and first double-double of her career with 37 assists and 11 digs. She also added two aces for the match.
In the first set, the ‘Bows cruised to a 25-16 win with a very efficient sideout percentage of 81%. Taylor paced UH with six kills and recorded all four of her blocks in the first set alone.
The Bears battled back in the second set, closing in late on a 6-to-2 run to cozy up to within a point of Hawai’i at 23-22. But UH’s McKenna Granato picked up a clutch kill for set point and Iosia closed the set with an ace to win 25-22. Sibley led Hawai’i in the second set with six kills while Taylor and Kahakai both had eight kills apiece to keep the defense rolling in the frame.
In the final set, both teams kept things close with 17 ties and 10 lead changes. Down the stretch, Hawai’i built a three-point lead at 22-19 on three-straight Taylor kills and the ‘Bows closed out the set, with Sibley pounding her 13th kill off a set from Kahakai.
Missouri State’s Lily Johnson led the Bears with 12 kills on 34 attacks with five errors and Lynsey Wright added 11. Emily Butters had 12 digs to pace MSU.
The Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic continues on Friday with No. 8 UCLA taking on Missouri State at 4:45 p.m. and Hawai’i facing old rival Pacific at 7:00 p.m.