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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
Chanteal Satele had 11 kills and an ace during the match.

With a huge assist from its four freshmen, sixth-ranked Hawaii captured the 16th annual Verizon Wireless Rainbow Wahine Volleyball Challenge last night by holding off Saint Mary’s, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23.

Hawaii (8-1) needed 20 kills from tournament MVP Kanani Danielson and every last ounce of energy from all their other players to put away the Gaels (7-3) before 4,802 at Stan Sheriff Center (6,329 tickets distributed).

Saint Mary’s, the reigning West Coast Conference champion, has been to the last two NCAA tournaments. By the looks of last night, the Gaels were simply too persistent and stubborn to let their season end any earlier.

"Their system is really good," said UH coach Dave Shoji. "They are just unorthodox. Plus they pass and serve really tough, and play great defense. That’s what makes them so good. I thought athletically they are about same as San Diego State and Irvine, but I guess they are really competitive."

Hawaii needed 2 hours and 17 minutes to finally silence the Gaels, after getting by UCI and SDSU in a little over an hour the first two nights. Saint Mary’s seized big leads in all four sets, but could hold Hawaii off just once.

The Wahine were erratic and sometimes appeared dazed and confused, resulting in 27 hitting errors. But they just kept coming, 11 strong, until Saint Mary’s finally went down on two fluky plays.

The first was Dani Mafua’s ace, which appeared to be on its way out when a Gael got in the way. That tied the fourth set at 23-all.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Most Outstanding Player:

Kanani Danielson, Hawaii

Elizabeth Ka’aihue, Hawaii

Chanteal Satele, Hawaii

Gabby Jolly, Saint Mary’s

Megan York, Saint Mary’s

Kari Pestolesi, UC Irvine

Kyley Sexton, San Diego State

 

The Wahine scored their third straight point on Saint Mary’s 21st hitting error. They won when the Gaels’ 71st dig fell gently to the ground because the setter could not plow through the digger on match point.

They did not deserve to go so quietly into the Manoa night.

Hawaii rallied early in the first behind Danielson’s six-kill, error-free performance. But when the UH All-American went from flawless to fatigued, the Wahine had all they could handle.

"We got really impatient," Shoji said. "They played great defense and that frustrates you as a hitter, so you try some other things and maybe some low-percentage things and you hit out.

"But we made the right plays at the end. We made some plays at the end of Games 3 and 4 and they didn’t."

Danielson had six hitting errors in the second set, while on the other side of the net, the Saint Mary’s middle attack was making UH look silly. Behind Shannon Lowell and Gabby Jolly, the Gaels took control after nine ties and had two set points at 24-22.

Chanteal Satele, who transferred home after playing for Saint Mary’s the past two seasons, buried the first and aced the second. She would finish with 11 kills, 10 digs and four stuffs, earning all-tournament honors.

The Gaels called their first timeout, but UH freshman Emily Hartong followed with a kill that gave Hawaii set point at 25-24. Saint Mary’s called its last timeout, and Lauren Corp came out with a kill to tie it again.

Danielson’s error gave the Gaels a third set point and, after Megan York’s fist save, Lowell ended it with her seventh kill.

Going into the third set Lowell and Jolly, running a middle attack that almost looked as if it was in slow motion, were hitting a combined .524. They would finish with 27 of the Gaels’ 58 kills — 15 from Lowell, who had 12 total the first two nights.

"The middles hit a different kind of set, and we couldn’t get the right combination up there," Shoji said. "The timing is difficult and their middle hitters are just smart. … We got real frustrated trying to stop the middle."

With four freshmen on the floor, Hawaii dragged itself back into the match and the third set after an ugly start put it in a 13-5 hole.

With Mita Uiato setting and Kaela Goodman, Hartong and Michelle Waber in the front row, the Wahine suddenly scored four in a row. The teams traded runs until the Wahine put together a final push.

They got within one (20-19) with Danielson serving and Waber scoring. They finally tied it at 21 on Waber and Satele kills. After another Waber kill tied it at 23, they took a lead when Hartong and Goodman teamed for a stuff.

Danielson’s 15th kill ended it.

"I’m not sure if that’s the reason we came back," Shoji said of the freshmen, "but certainly it seemed to turn Game 3 around.

"To me it was just dead even. Someone had to lose and someone had to win. I’m glad it was us winning."

In the third-place match, UC Irvine (3-5) ended a four-match losing streak with a 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12 victory over San Diego State (5-4). UCI hitters Juliane Piggott (21 kills, 19 digs) and Kari Pestolesi (15 and 21) both had double-doubles, as did SDSU’s Kyley Sexton (18 and 21) and Andrea Hannasch (13 and 10).

 

NO. 6 HAWAII DEF. ST. MARY’S 25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23

GAELS (6-2)
  s k e att pct d bs ba pts
Corp 4 10 5 34 .147 12 0 3 11.5
Shaw 4 7 3 22 .182 3 0 2 9
York 4 6 4 27 .074 20 1 1 7.5
White 4 1 1 3 .000 8 0 0 2
Lowell 4 15 1 41 .341 1 0 3 16.5
Loos 4 7 2 14 .357 0 0 2 8
Jolly 4 12 5 20 .350 2 0 2 13
Huston 4 0 0 0 .000 16 0 0 1
Kamana’o 4 0 0 1 .000 9 0 0 0
Totals 4 58 21 162 .228 71 1 13 68.5

 

RAINBOW WAHINE (8-1)
  s k e att pct d bs ba pts
Hewitt 4 11 2 24 .375 0 1 8 17
Danielson 4 20 9 59 .186 12 0 2 23
Mafua 4 1 0 4 .250 7 0 0 3
Maeda 4 0 0 0 .000 10 0 0 0
Satele 4 11 3 28 .286 10 0 4 14
Hartong 4 8 6 21 .095 0 0 2 9
Waber 4 7 4 22 .136 2 0 4 9
Goodman 4 4 3 11 .091 1 0 2 5
Ka’aihue 4 0 0 0 .000 17 0 0 0
Griffiths 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0
Uiato 4 0 0 0 .000 4 0 0 1  
Totals 4 62 27 169 .207 63 1 22 81

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 — StM (3): Shaw, White, Huston. Hawaii (7): Danielson 2, Mafua 2, Hewitt, Satele, Uiato.
Service Errors — StM (10): York 5, Kamana’o 3, Shaw 2. Hawaii (4): Danielson 2, Maeda, Satele. Assists — StM (55): White 29, Kamana’o 22, Corp 3, York. Hawaii (58): Mafua 39, Ka’aihue 5, Danielson, Maeda, Waber. T — 2:17.
Officials — Ernest Ho, Wayne Lee.

A — 4,802.

 

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