Looking every bit at times like a squad that returned all its starters from a national championship team, the No. 1 University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team topped No. 6 Ball State 25-16, 25-23, 22-25, 25-17 at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday night in what was the season opener for both teams.
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After being pushed to the brink by the Cardinals in the NCAA semifinals last year, the Rainbow Warriors had no trouble breezing past Ball State in the first set, jumping out to a 10-4 lead before Ball State head coach and Maui native Donan Cruz called the first timeout of the match. UH led by as much as 22-11 before putting the Cardinals away in Set 1.
Ball State took its first lead of the match, holding a 7-5 advantage in Set 2. But a 7-1 run for the Rainbow Warriors prompted another BSU timeout and the Rainbow Warriors led the rest of the way, edging the Cardinals 25-23.
Despite the 2-0 hole, Ball State extended the match with a gutsy performance in Set 3.
Hawaii jumped out to a 8-3 lead in the third set en route to victory. Three players had double-digit kills for the Rainbow Warriors, led by Spyros Chakas’ match-high 19 kills, while Jakob Thelle had a match-high 47 assists with a team-high eight kills.
For Ball State, Kaleb Jenness had a team-high 18 kills with a match-high nine digs, while Punahou alumnus Keau Thompson held his own in his first collegiate match, tallying eight kills with three digs.
The ‘Bows and Cardinals will close out their two-match series on Friday at 7 p.m. Despite Friday not being the series opener, it will serve as banner night for the Rainbow Warriors with their 2022 NCAA championship banner set to be unveiled before the contest.