The University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (18-8, 14-2 Big West) opens the 2018 NCAA Tournament with a first round match-up against No. 25 Baylor (19-8, 11-5 Big 12) on Thursday, November 29 at 2:30 p.m. HT at the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.
The Rainbow Wahine arrived in Oregon on Tuesday and held their first practice in preparation for the Bears.
The host team, No. 14 and 15th-seed Oregon will take on New Mexico State following the Hawai’i/Baylor match at 5:00 p.m. HT.
The Rainbow Wahine earned an at-large bid after finishing second in the Big West for the second-straight season. Second-year head coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos has led the ‘Bows to its 37th appearance and the 26th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Hawai’i fell in the in the first round in five sets to Illinois in Seattle, Wash..
The four Rainbow Wahine-Reyn “Tita” Akiu, Natasha Burns, McKenna Granato and Norene Iosia-who last week earned all-Big West first team honors have all helped lead Hawai’i into the NCAA tournament.
Akiu, a senior transfer who played her first three seasons at Texas Tech, led Hawai’i with 431 digs. She now needs just six digs to tie former UH greats Teee Williams and Sarah Mendoza for No. 5 in the UH single-season record book for digs. Her average of 4.44 digs per set, already ranks her at No. 2 in UH history for a single season, only behind Elizabeth Ka’aihue who averaged 4.65 digs per set in 2010. She recorded double-digits in digs in all but one of UH’s 26 matches this season. Akiu recorded six 20+ dig matches-including three games with a UH-career-high of 26 digs. She also added 91 assists and 13 service aces.
Burns, a fourth-year junior who will be graduating this spring, also earned her first all-Big West honor. She led UH this year with a career-high 88 total blocks-14 solo and 74 block assists. Burns also tallied a career-high 177 kills and averaged 2.16 k/set while hitting .311 which ranks her at No. 7 in the conference.
For the second-straight season, Granato led Hawai’i in kills (313) and this year, service aces (37) too. She averaged a team-high 3.26 kills per set. On UH’s last regular-season recent roadtrip, Granato became just the 20th Rainbow Wahine in program history to record 1,000 career kills. She enters this week with 1,044 total kills, which ranks her at No. 19 in the UH record books. Granato posted 18 double-digit kill games this season and had 11 double-doubles. For her career, she finished the regular season with 739 career-digs, 108 service aces, and 102 total blocks.
Iosia, who is a junior, was one of four players in the conference to earn first team for the third time. This season, Iosia saw her role on the team expand as she had the added responsibility of hitting at the pins while in UH’s modified 6-2 offense. She finished the season ranked second on the team in almost every statistical category for Hawai’i with 201 kills, 463 assists, 286 digs, and 54 blocks. She was third in service aces with 26. Iosia was a double-double machine, cranking out 15 double-doubles as well as four triple-doubles-which ranks her fourth nationally.
No. 25 Baylor Bears
The Baylor Bears enter the post season with an overall record of 19-8. They finished second in the Big 12 with an 11-5 record. Yossiana Pressley leads the Bears with 483 total kills this season with a team-high 4.83 kills per set. She is also solid at the net, with 62 total blocks and on defense with 223 digs. Look out for Shelly Fanning who leads Baylor with 124 total blocks and she is second on the team with 341 kills. She leads the Bears with a .401 hitting percentage and also has 19 service aces. Hannah Lockin has dished out 763 assists while Tara Wulf has recorded a team-high 425 digs.
New Mexico State Aggies
Former WAC rival, New Mexico State rolls into the NCAA tournament with a 24-7 overall record and a 12-4 conference mark. The Aggies won the WAC Tournament, defeating Utah Valley in the championship match in four sets. NMSU is led by Tatyana Battle, who posted 406 total kills and a team-high 3.38 kills per set. She also led the Aggies with 364 digs and 461.5 points. New Mexico State has a pair of 100+ blockers with Megan Hart logging 132 total blocks and 253 kills while Julianna Salanoa has 111 total blocks and 144 kills. Briana Ainsworth and Natalie Mikels have split the setting duties and have 642 and 630 assists respectively. Mikels also leads the Aggies with 46 service aces.
15th-Seed/No. 14 Oregon Ducks
The host team, Oregon, enters the post-season with a 201-10 overall record and a 13-7 PAC-12 record. Lindsey Vander Weide leads the Ducks’ offense with 369 kills and 31 service aces. Ronika Stone has been solid at the net, recording almost double the amount of blocks as her nearest teammate with 132 total blocks. Brooke Nuneviller has tallied 509 total digs while averaging nearly five digs per set (4.99) while setter August Raskie has posted 1,311 assists this season while also recorded 126 kills.
2018 NCAA Tournament – First and Second Rounds
SITE: Matthew Knight Arena – University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.)
DATE/TIME: Thursday, November 29, 2018
2:30 p.m. HT – Hawai’i vs. No. 25 Baylor
5:00 p.m. HT – No. 14 Oregon (15th seed) vs. New Mexico State
TELEVISION: Spectrum OC16 will broadcast the match between UH and Baylor with Kanoa Leahey calling the play-by-play and Chris McLachlin handling the play-by-play.
RADIO: ESPN 1420 am, UH’s flagship radio station, will be covering the first round of the NCAA Tournament with Tiff Well providing the play-by-play.
LIVE AUDIOSTREAM: A live audio stream will be available at www.espn1420 am.com
TICKETS: All-session tickets will go on sale for the NCAA First and Second Rounds at GoDucks.com (https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/oregonducks/EN/buy/details/18vbncas)
LIVESTATS: Live in-game stats will be available at HawaiiAthletics.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS, GO TO: www.ncaa.com/volleyball
Hawai’i Post-season History:
-37th overall NCAA Tournament Appearance – 26th consecutive
-Three NCAA Championships (1982, 1983, 1987); One AIAW Championship (1979)
-NCAA Champion Runner-Up (1988, 1996)
-Nine Final Four Appearances
-Overall NCAA Record – 81-33
-UH holds an all-time record of 6-0 against Baylor. Last year, the two teams squared off in Honolulu as the ‘Bows edged out the Bears in five sets, 18-25, 25-14, 18-25, 25-17, 16-14.
-Hawai’i holds a 7-4 all-time record against Oregon, but earlier this season in Week 4, UH played two matches against the Ducks. Oregon swept UH on the first night. The second game was much closer on Sept. 14 with UH falling in five sets, 23-25, 10-25, 25-22, 25-23, 12-15.
-Hawai’i has a 34-2 record against former Western Athletic Conference rival, New Mexico State. Their most recent match against each other came on Sept. 5, 2013 a year after UH rejoined the Big West Conference.