The University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season and was eliminated from the Big West Conference tournament with a 22-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-23, 18-16 semifinal loss to UC San Diego at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center on Friday night.
After receiving a quarterfinal bye as the conference’s top seed, the Rainbow Warriors showed no signs of rust in the first set in putting away the Tritons quickly. But UCSD responded with a win in the second set as UH had six hitting errors and seven serving errors. After Hawaii took the third set with relative ease, UCSD edged Hawaii in the fourth set due to the play of Kyle McCauley.
UC San Diego ultimately prevailed in the fifth and final set after pushing UH to match point three times.
Hawaii drops to 15-1 on the season, while UCSD improves to 5-12.
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McCauley led UCSD with a game-high 18 kills and 10 digs for a double-double, while Ryan Ka added 14 kills.
Patrick Gasman had a team-high 17 kills for Hawaii, while Rado Parapunov added 16 kills but had 13 errors. Jakob Thelle had a game-high 53 assists with 10 digs for a double-double.
The Tritons advance to Saturday night’s championship game against No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara, who are ranked third nationally. The Gauchos advanced to the championship game with a four-set win over Long Beach State prior to UH’s game against UCSD.
Hawaii, which was ranked first nationally, is currently ranked third in RPI entering the Big West tournament. UH no longer controls its own destiny and will have to wait until Selection Sunday to see if it has one of the two at-large spots in the seven-team NCAA tournament.