A night after obliterating Brigham Young at the Stan Sheriff Center, sixth-ranked Hawaii was forced to go harder and fly higher to get by the Cougars.
Playing at a higher volleyball altitude was not a problem in the Rainbow Wahine’s 25-23, 25-13, 25-16 victory.
The were led offensively by Brittany Hewitt (13 kills), Kanani Danielson (11) and Chanteal Satele (10), with Dani Mafua, Elizabeth Ka’aihue and Emily Maeda providing a complement.
"They (the Cougars) played better, which I thought made us play better," said UH coach Dave Shoji. "It was a well-played match. We really had to earn our points. They didn’t give us as many as the first night."
Hawaii (10-1) will take a five-match winning streak into its Western Athletic Conference volleyball season opener Thursday, at home, against Utah State. The Wahine are going after their 13th consecutive WAC championship and hope to earn it with consistency.
"Come out the same every night no matter who is on the other side of the net," Hewitt said. "Being aggressive every night no matter what. It’s mental. We’ve got to keep pushing ourselves."
In contrast, BYU (3-9) takes a five-match losing streak into its final Mountain West season. After falling fast Friday, the Cougars made a game of it early last night before 5,159 fans (6,927 tickets issued).
But the Rainbow Wahine came out with more fire as well, and ultimately last night’s opening set featured all the drama the two-night series could muster. Danielson, a junior All-American 8 inches shorter than BYU’s tallest player, became the 17th Wahine to collect 1,000 kills while tying it at 23.
Her point, which came on a patented push shot into the deep corner, followed spectacular saves by Ka’aihue (16 digs) and Maeda. Ka’aihue also had the "grand" assist.
Danielson’s rush to 1,000 brought back memories of UH Olympians Teee Williams and Kim Willoughby, but Shoji wants to savor the time that remains.
"Kanani is on her way to becoming one of the all-time greats," Shoji said. "But let’s not put her ahead of her time yet."
Hewitt scored the final two points of the opening set to overcome the Cougars, who led by as much as 17-13.
From there, Mafua put the offense in overdrive. The results were devastating in the second set. UH hit .424, with Satele, Hewitt, Danielson and freshman Emily Hartong taking target practice at the Cougars.
A huge BYU block that roofed five balls in the opening set barely touched two in the next. Mafua consistently found her hitters waiting alone and willing to rip.
"Dani did a nice job finding who was more open and adjusting from the first game," said Danielson, who knocked over the BYU libero in the back of the court with one shot. "Everybody else executed the hits."
It was over in 20 minutes. When Maeda served the first three points of Set 3, starting with an ace, it was all but over for the night, but Maeda wasn’t done.
The redshirt sophomore out of Roosevelt High School came into the match with two aces in her career. She had four of Hawaii’s seven last night and served nine straight points to blow open the final set.
"She’s little," Danielson shrugged. "Em’s serve comes up over the net with that pop, and it’s still very, very efficient. She’s just got a nice solid palm on it and knows exactly where she wants to hit the ball."
Utah State lost for the first time Friday. After beating Loyola Marymount in five earlier in the day, USU (12-1) lost to Utah Valley in the evening, 20-18 in the fifth.
Nevada, which lost three times this weekend to fall to 6-6, is here Friday.
New Mexico State (6-7) also lost three times this weekend. The Wahine’s first road match is in Las Cruces, N.M., on Sept. 29.