In an early battle for first place in the Big West Conference standings, the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team came out victorious with a 25-21, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22 on Saturday night at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawaii improves to 12-6 overall and 9-1 atop the Big West standings, while UC Santa Barbara falls to 12-8 overall and 8-2 in conference matches. Saturday is Hawaii’s first win over UC Santa Barbara since Nov. 1, 2019.

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After Cal Poly lost to UC Irvine earlier on Saturday, the Rainbow Wahine and Gauchos entered Saturday night’s contest at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center with knowledge that the winner would grab sole possession of first place in the Big West standings with the conference slate halfway done at 10 matches.

The Rainbow Wahine were never truly threatened in the first set, but an 8-1 run for UC Santa Barbara to end the second set evened the match. The ‘Bows seized control of the match by closing the third set on a 10-4 run.

UCSB setter Macall Peed gave UH fits in 2021 and did so again on Saturday with a match-high 20 digs to go with nine assists. Meanwhile, Michelle Ohwobete had a match-high 18 kills for the Gauchos.

For Hawaii, Riley Wagoner led a balanced offensive effort with a double-double of a team-high 17 kills to go with 13 digs, while Amber Igiede added 13 kills, four blocks and eight digs. Setter Kate Lang also paced the ‘Bows with a match-high 41 assists.

With first place in hand, Hawaii will hit the road again for a pair of conference matches, starting with UC Riverside on Thursday at a start time yet to be determined.