POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 26, 2010
Clearly weary, but still unbeatable, fifth-ranked Hawaii stuffed Utah State last night to get through its toughest regular-season road trip unscathed.
The Rainbow Wahine (19-1, 9-0) won their 14th in a row, sweeping the Aggies 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 in a Western Athletic Conference volleyball match in Logan, Utah.
"Most teams probably couldn't do what we've been able to do - win three games in five days and not drop a set," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "It might seem easy, but it's not. Our players are just a bunch of kids who want to win. They won't lay down or give up in any game."
Hawaii has an NCAA-best 34-match regular-season conference winning streak as it comes home for matches against Boise State (Friday), New Mexico State (Sunday) and Louisiana Tech (Monday). The Wahine have not lost a set since Sept. 11.
They did not come close to losing last night, before 822 at Dee Smith Glen Spectrum and a national TV audience. Against a Utah State team that starts four seniors, won its first 11 this season to receive votes in the poll, and swept UH in Hawaii three years ago, the Wahine were imperturbable.
In their third match in five nights, they amassed 22 hitting errors but held Utah State (15-7, 3-6) to just seven kills in both the first and third sets. With junior transfer Chanteal Satele and freshman Emily Hartong holding up the offense, Hawaii blocked 13 balls and collected 52 digs to fight off the frustrated Aggies.
"We were a little low on energy, but we really kinda grinded the win out tonight," said Shoji, who used 12 players. "Every night will be a little different. We've got to get contributions from everybody at some point."
Early on, the offensive contributions mostly came from Satele, who had 10 kills and was hitting .600 going into the final set. Hartong moved from the middle to the left side in that set and swatted five kills.
While All-American Kanani Danielson and Brittany Hewitt struggled offensively, Satele celebrated her 20th birthday by burying five of her eight swings in the opening set. The Wahine scored 10 of the last 13 points to pull away.
They collected 23 digs - libero Elizabeth Ka'aihue had 10 - and limited Utah State to seven kills on .026 hitting in that set. Ka'aihue would go on to tie a season high with 22 digs.
Hawaii broke from a 5-all tie in the second, taking the lead for good on a Ka'aihue ace. Hewitt stuffed three balls in the next four serves to put UH up 9-6, and USU never got closer than two again. The country's leading blocker had eight in the match, and Satele was in on six of UH's 13 stuffs.
Most of those came against Liz McArthur, Utah State's most potent offensive threat. She finished with seven kills and 10 errors in 37 swings, a hitting percentage of negative-.081. Her team hit negative-.051 in the third.
"We just try to take everybody's favorite shot away. We blocked really well tonight," said Shoji, who also praised his team's serving.
"After Game 1, I thought we served better," he added. "They couldn't really run their offense on a consistent basis. We found some seams in their passing and tried to hit them. I thought that was a big key because we didn't do that at first, and they stayed with us in Game 1. The minute we started moving the ball around better, we pulled away."
» Hawaii dropped one place, to fifth, in this week's AVCA Coaches Top 25 and remained eighth in the weekly NCAA Women's Volleyball RPI. Cal, ranked fifth last week, upset then-No. 2 Stanford and is now ranked third behind Florida and Nebraska. The Cardinal are fourth. Cal also moved ahead of the Wahine in the RPI, at No. 7. Florida, Illinois and Nebraska are 1-2-3 in the RPI.
» New Mexico State comes in for Sunday's 5 p.m. match with the WAC Player of the Week. Senior Kayleigh Giddens earned the honor by leading the Aggies to road wins last week at Nevada and Utah State. She collected 40 kills and hit .303 on the week, averaging 5.71 kills, 2.14 digs and 0.71 blocks per set. She has posted double-digit kill figures in 19 of the Aggies' 24 matches. Hawaii's nominee was sophomore Brittany Hewitt, who averaged 2.83 kills while hitting .481.
» Hawaii stretched its national attendance lead while on the road. The Wahine averaged 6,215 in their first 15 home matches. Runner-up Nebraska dropped to 4,960 in nine matches in this week's report. Wisconsin is next at 3,807.
|New Mexico St.||9||1||.900||1/2||15-9|
|San Jose State||3||6||.333||6||8-15|
Aces - Hawaii (6): Ka'aihue 3, Mafua, Maeda, Hartong. Utah State (1): Morrill. Service Errors - Hawaii (3): Hewitt, Mafua, Danielson. Utah State (6): White 3, Fowles, Bodily, Hargrove. Assists - Hawaii (39): Mafua 37, Ka'aihue 2. Utah State (27): Fowles 24, Morrill 2, Astle. T - 1:25. Officials - Syd Church, Tom Given. A - 822.