Hawaii's aggressive game plan serves it well in a convincing sweep of Utah State
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 24, 2010
Utah State passed on a shot at an upset in last night's Western Athletic Conference volleyball opener against fifth-ranked Hawaii. But most of all, the Aggies passed poorly.
Their ballhandling woes helped the Rainbow Wahine roll to a 26-24, 25-17, 25-17 sweep before 3,832 at Stan Sheriff Center (5,565 tickets distributed). Hawaii (11-1, 1-0 WAC) hosts Nevada tonight.
UH got 15 kills from Kanani Danielson and 14 more from Chanteal Satele. Brittany Hewitt added eight stuffs and Elizabeth Ka'aihue 15 digs.
The Wahine collected 59 digs in the match -- Danielson and setter Dani Mafua had double-doubles -- but it was their serves that bothered the Aggies most.
"Our game plan was to come out aggressive, serve aggressive," said Ka'aihue, who had half Hawaii's six aces. "Not necessarily to any particular person but just come out aggressive because they are an aggressive serving team and we thought it would come down to passing and serving."
It pretty much did and Utah State (12-2, 0-1) lost that battle. The Wahine effectively kept their serves away from USU libero Christine Morrill, one of four senior starters, and the other Aggies struggled.
This one wasn't in doubt after the opening set, though there were enough long rallies to make it interesting.
"We did a nice job taking away what they like to do," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "(Liz) McArthur is a really good player. She got a lot of kills but she didn't have a good percentage. That was pretty key for us."
WAC VOLLEYBALL STANDINGS
Yesterday Hawaii def. Utah State 26-24, 25-17, 25-17
New Mexico State def. Louisiana Tech, 25-23, 25-20, 25-11
Boise State def. San Jose State, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 15-9
Idaho def. Fresno State, 25-22, 25-22, 25-17
Nevada at Hawaii, 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center
Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State
Idaho at San Jose State
Boise State at Fresno State
After a slow start McArthur, the national player of the week a month ago, finished with 12 kills. That was twice as many as any teammate, but she hit just .146. Her team hit .108.
Hawaii had everything going its way early. Utah State suddenly woke up and scored eight straight to take its first lead, at 17-16 in the opening set.
It was tied eight more times before Danielson drilled her fifth kill, then soared to stuff Shay Sorensen with Hewitt.
The back-and-forth nature of the match disappeared in the next set when the Aggies, suffering through long passing slumps, only went back.
Ka'aihue scored on the first five serves and Danielson made it 11-3 when she served five more. In the midst of that, USU tried adding a fourth passer. Danielson immediately served an ace.
The Aggies would get no closer than five, with Danielson and Satele each burying five kills, Hewitt adding two more blocks and Shoji bringing in reserves near the end.
He kept Alexis Forsythe in the middle in the final set and sent freshman Emily Hartong outside. Hawaii still hammered away, breaking to an 11-3 advantage to force the Aggies to burn both timeouts.
Danielson and Satele put the last nails in with five more kills apiece in that set.
"We had good chances because Liz and Emily (Maeda), all the defenders were playing great," Satele said. "And Dani was setting great."
The Wahine are now 15-0 in WAC openers. That isn't surprising when their regular-season conference record is 203-4 since joining in 1996. They have won the last 12 WAC championships.
Utah State, the team that ended Hawaii's 108-match conference home winning streak three years ago, was expected to present more of a challenge. It won its first 11 this season and is receiving Top-25 votes for the first time in eight years.
But it failed at the first touch.
"It's never really easy," Shoji said. "I didn't think the points came easy tonight. We had to earn them. I thought they just didn't give us games or points, they made us earn them. That's good for us."
It wasn't good for Utah State coach Grayson DuBose, who knew coming in how difficult this would be.
"You go to Hawaii and the playing environment is so unique, so different than anywhere else you play," he said. "With the crowd and environment and tradition. ... You have to give yourselves as many chances as you can to score. You're not going to get too many opportunities so you've got to take advantage of every one."
HAWAII DEF. UTAH STATE 26-24, 25-17, 25-17Aggies (12-2)
Rainbow Wahine (11-1)
Key -- s: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills plus blocks plus aces)
Aces -- Utah State (4): Bodily 2, White, McArthur. Hawaii (6): Kaaihue 3, Danielson 2, Maeda. Service Errors -- Utah State (5): Hargrove 2, Fowles, Bodily, Morrill. Hawaii (5): Maeda 2, Hewitt, Danielson, Mafua. Assists -- Utah State (26): Fowles 21, Morrill 3, Astle 2. Hawaii (45): Mafua 36, Kaaihue 5, Uiato 3, Hewitt. T -- 1:38. Officials -- Michael Yoshikawa, Dan Hironaka. A -- 5,565.