Hawai’i outlasts Cal Poly in critical match

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HONOLULU—The University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (14-6, 10-1 Big West) upset No. 11 Cal Poly (19-2, 9-1 BWC) in a tough, five-set match, 14-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18, 15-10 on Friday night with a season-high 7,466 tickets issued at the Stan Sheriff Center. McKenna Granato led UH’s offense and was one of three players with double-digits in kills with a team-high 17 kills. Angel Gaskin tied her season high putting down 12 kills at critical points in the sets, while Natasha Burns notched 11 kills with a team-high six blocks—including a career-high three solo blocks. But it was a total team effort by Hawai’i that lifted the ‘Bows to its first victory over a ranked opponent since defeating #8 Penn State in the 2015 NCAA Tournament Regionals.
The win snapped the ‘Bows’ 13-match losing streak to ranked opponents. It also snapped their three-match losing streak to Cal Poly. Most importantly, the win ties UH for the Big West lead with the Mustangs at 9-1 in conference. It was UH’s third five set win of the season and fifth five-set match overall. It was also head coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos‘ first win over a ranked opponent.
UH’s win snapped Cal Poly’s 18-match win streak, handing the Mustangs their first loss since August 24th at Pitt, where they lost, 3-1. The CP loss also snapped their 26-conference match win streak dating back to Nov. 17, 2016 which was a sweep by Hawai’i. The loss snapped the Mustangs’ 12-match road BWC win streak as well. For Cal Poly, it was just their second five-set match of the season, after defeating Loyola Marymount in five on August 31.
Granato led UH with 17 kills, hitting .214 with eight errors in 42 attacks. She also added five digs, a block and an assist for the game.
Gaskin came through with some clutch kills to help lift the ‘Bows to wins in Sets 2, 4, and 5. She added three blocks in the match.
Both Norene Iosia and Faith Ma’afala recorded double-doubles for the match. Iosia was one kill short of another triple-double. But she had a team-high 23 assists and tied her career-high with a team-high 21 digs. She also tied her season-high with three service aces and was in on two blocks. Ma’afala had 21 assists with 13 digs and one service ace to lead the UH offense.
All the UH players that came in off the bench made contributions and gave energy to the team. McKenna RossRika OkinoKamalei KrugJanelle Gong, and Skyler Williams came in and had a hand in the win.
The Mustangs rolled in the first set, taking it, 25-14. Cal Poly went on a 9-to-1 run early in the frame and pulled away.
UH took a brief lead early in Set 2, but the Mustangs quickly erased their deficit to take a lead of their own. Cal Poly led by as many as three points at 11-8 and continued to lead until UH started scoring in little bunches, with UH finally taking a lead at 16-15 with Gong serving. Ma’afala then went on a four-point serving run that gave the ‘Bows some cushion with a 21-16 lead from which the Mustangs could not recover from as UH evened the match at 1-1, taking the second set, 25-19. It was just the third set taken off Cal Poly in conference action.
In Set 3, UH raced out to a 7-2 lead, but the Mustangs caught the ‘Bows at 10-10. Cal Poly finished the set going away on an 11-to-2 run with Katherine Brouker serving five times and Torry Van Winden also serving five times down the stretch to capture the third set, 25-17 and take a 2-1 lead.
Hawai’i came out firing again in Set 4, jumping out to a 7-3 lead early. But UH was unable to shake the Mustangs, and eventually Cal Poly caught the ‘Bows at 13-13. From that point, the score was tied at 14, 15, 16 and 17. But UH took an 18-17 lead on a Gaskin kill, defensive specialist Gong went on a six-point serving run to take a 24-17 lead. Burns put a tip shot down to end the frame, 25-18 to force a fifth and deciding set.
The fifth set was a battle with seven tied scores and six lead changes. Hawai’i would go and take a two-point lead, but the Mustangs would come right back to tie the score or take the lead. But after the score was tied at 9-9 on a CP service error, with Okino serving UH took an 11-9 lead on kills by Granato and Gaskin. Later with Gong serving, Gaskin put down a kill that forced Cal Poly to call their final timeout with UH leading 13-10. The next point ended with Gong getting a dig that sailed over the net and into the CP corner for the point ant a 14-10 lead. Gaskin ended the match with her 12th kill of the night.
Cal Poly out-blocked the ‘Bows, 19.0-to-11.5, but UH had the edge in kills 63-to-57, digs 65-to-62, and aces, 4-to-1.
Quick turnaround for the ‘Bows as they battle UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night, Oct. 27 at 7:05 p.m.

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