POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 24, 2010
At the halfway point of the Western Athletic Conference volleyball season, Hawaii is ranked fourth in the country and all but untouched by its most familiar foes.
The Rainbow Wahine swept past Boise State, 25-13, 25-23, 25-20, last night in the teams' last conference match at Bronco Gym. Boise State (17-8, 4-5) will leave the WAC after this school year.
UH (18-1, 8-0 WAC) has won its last 13. It hasn't dropped a set since Sept. 11. The Wahine take the nation's best regular-season conference winning streak (33) on a 5-hour bus ride today. They will travel nearly 300 miles to Logan, Utah, where they close this road trip tomorrow night against Utah State.
The match will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. Hawaii time on ESPNU and KKEA, 1420-AM. Hawaii comes home Tuesday and plays Boise State again Friday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Broncos have nearly a week to figure out what went wrong in the final two sets yesterday, before 1,327 fans on "Pink Night," a promotion to enhance breast cancer awareness.
Boise already has more wins than in any season since 2004, and took WAC runner-up New Mexico State to five last week. It starts three seniors and two juniors. But last night, after flopping in the first set, it was up 12-8 in the second and 9-5 in the third and couldn't finish.
"Boise is much improved and started to put some pressure on us," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "They started to play better all the way around. Their block bothered us a little. We were not real sharp.
"And, they had a nice crowd, pretty vocal. That's what happens on the road. You don't play as well as you want to play."
Still, the Wahine had too many weapons.
All-American Kanani Danielson, as usual, pulled the trigger most often. She collected a match-high 14 kills and Chanteal Satele added 10, with eight digs.
Middles Brittany Hewitt and Emily Hartong combined for 14 kills, with Hartong hitting .625 and Hewitt helping her NCAA-best blocking average with six stuffs. She also had a career-high six digs, playing in a gym 20 minutes from where she attended high school.
Early on, this was no contest. Hawaii scored 14 of the first 16 points. Hewitt had four blocks and Danielson five kills in an opening set in which the Wahine outhit Boise by nearly 300 points (.360-.062).
The UH hitting percentage dropped dramatically in the second set, which was tied seven times as Boise held Danielson down. The Wahine rallied from the middle, catching the Broncos at 18 as Hewitt pounded five kills and Hartong four more.
Hawaii pulled ahead 22-19, but Boise scored the next two points, forcing UH to call its final timeout. Danielson, who had one kill at that stage, ended it with three more on the final four serves.
"It was close enough," Shoji said, "that we wanted to get her the ball."
The final set was more of the same, with nine ties. The Wahine fell behind early, tied it at 12 on consecutive kills by Danielson, and finally broke away with five straight points to make it 19-15.
Senior Alisha Young led the Broncos with nine kills and hit .381, but she was the only BSU starting hitter who hit more than .105.
The Broncos are now 0-21 against the Wahine, and haven't won a set off them since 2006. Hawaii will miss them in more ways than one.
"I'm going to miss the Hawaii people here who feed us after the game," Shoji said. "They had the potato bar again for us today. Every year they have it here. They keep them real hot even though it's freezing up here."
|RAINBOW WAHINE (18-1, 8-0 WAC)|
|BRONCOS (17-8, 4-5 WAC)|
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 — Hawaii (2): Ka'aihue, Maeda. Boise State (2): Hamm, Nesselhuf. Service Errors — Hawaii (3): Mafua 2, Danielson. Boise State (5): Nesselhuf 2, Young, Jones. Assists — Hawaii (40): Mafua 36, Kaaihue 4. Boise State (32): Nesselhuf 30, Jones, Remy. T — 1:30. Officials — Les Calles, Garrod Shumway. A — 1,327.