Rainbow Wahine volleyball extends winning streak to three matches

Local Sports

The University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (3-2, 0-0 Big West) fought hard to win their third-straight match with a four-set victory over Idaho, 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-22 on the opening night of the 24th Annual Outrigger Volleyball Challenge. Senior outside hitter McKenna Granato surpassed the 800 career kill mark as she pummeled a season-high 19 kills, while middle hitters Sarah Liva and Natasha Burns added nine kills each on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Granato finished the night with 804 career kills, as she needed just 15 to hit the milestone mark entering tonight’s game. She was efficient as well, hitting .410 for the match with just three errors on 39 swings. She also recorded seven digs and a service ace in UH’s first four-set match of the season.
Liva posted a UH career-high nine kills with no errors in 16 attacks for a .562 hitting percentage. She also posted her first service ace of the year while adding two digs and three blocks. Burns came in off the bench and gave UH an immediate lift with back-to-back kills. She hit .667 (9-1-12) for the game and was in on a team-high four blocks.
Setter/outside hitter Norene Iosia tallied her fifth double-double match of the year with 22 assists and 13 digs. She also added two kills, three service aces and two blocks. UH’s libero Tita Akiu, continued to patrol the backline with confidence as she posted a season-high and match-high 22 digs. She has had double-digit digs in every match thus far.
In the first set, UH struggled out of the gate as the Vandals raced out to take the early lead. Idaho led by as much as seven points at 14-7. But the Rainbow Wahine battled all the way back behind some tough serving combined with a scrambling defense and McKenna Granato pounding eight of her 19 kills in the first set alone. Faith Ma’afala’s service run of five-straight points was highlighted by four consecutive Granato kills. UH finally caught the Vandals at 15-15 and then took their first lead of the set at 16-15 on a Granato service ace, since starting the frame at 1-0. Down the stretch, the ‘Bows were dealing out aces with Iosia getting one and Rika Okino stymying the Vandal defense for back-to-back aces late. UH took the first set, 25-21. 
After trailing by as much as six points in Set 2, UH again fought their way back into contention. Down 14-20, the ‘Bows rallied to score four-straight points with Ma’afala serving and Natasha Burns coming in off the bench to put down two-straight kills. Eventually, UH tied the score at 23-23 on a Iosia ace, but the Vandals then posted the next two points to even the match at 1-1.
Hawai’i came out swinging in Set 3 as they jumped out to as big as an eight point lead at 16-8. Idaho kept trying to chip away at their deficit, but came up short as the ‘Bows took a  2-1 lead taking Set 3, 25-18.
In their first fourth set of the season, Hawai’i found themselves down early, 3-6. After an early timeout, Okino went on a five-point serving run to give UH its first lead of the set, ending the run at 9-6. UH would build a small lead, but then Idaho would comeback to tie the score. In all, there were eight ties in the set. UH could not quite shake the Vandals off. The last tie came at 21-21, but from there, UH pulled away to end the match on a 4-to-1 run ending the night on a Casey Castillo cross-court kill.
Hawai’i edged out the Vandals 56-51 in kills and had a 10-to-5 advantage in service aces as both teams had 8.0 blocks apiece.
Idaho was led by Kaela Straw who put down 20 kills while Sarah Sharp added 13 kills. Alycia Wodke racked up four service aces and had 21 digs to lead the Vandals. Reece Carman and DeVonne Ryter had four blocks each to lead UI.
Hawai’i will have a short turnaround as the ‘Bows take on the undefeated Portland Pilots (7-0, 0-0 West Coast) who swept San Diego State in the early match on the second day of the Outrigger Volleyball Challenge.

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