When the Western Athletic Conference’s irresistible volleyball force met its last-place opponent last night, the predictable happened, in less than 82 minutes.
Fourth-ranked Hawaii suffered several little lapses and still trampled all over Louisiana Tech, 25-13, 25-11, 25-18, in front of 3,242 at Stan Sheriff Center.
"It wasn’t real crisp. We still got used on the block; it was a little bit loose," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "But I really can’t complain. It’s hard to get up three nights in the last four."
The Rainbow Wahine (22-1, 12-0) extended their NCAA-best conference winning streak to 37 regular-season matches and 44 straight sets. UH has won its last 17 matches overall.
Friday, the team takes a break from WAC and Division I competition to play D-II Hawaii Pacific in a 7 p.m. match that follows the annual alumnae exhibition. It could be as competitive as last night.
Louisiana Tech (11-16, 0-10) is the only WAC team not making a play to play in the WAC tournament during Thanksgiving week in Las Vegas. The Techsters are short on wins, passing, weapons, bodies and stature.
They never gave up last night and never had a chance, getting swept for the 16th time in the teams’ 17 meetings. Shoji called it "pointless" to try new wrinkles or tweak technique against them.
Instead, he took the opportunity to showcase the future in the final set. Shoji sat Kanani Danielson and Dani Mafua for the first set this season, and Brittany Hewitt for the second.
He started freshmen Mita Uiato, Kaela Goodman, Michelle Waber, Emily Hartong and Kristiana Tuaniga, along with junior Alexis Forsythe. Senior libero Elizabeth Ka’aihue was team mother on the floor, with Emily Maeda and Alex Griffiths providing back-row support.
The game got more interesting, but the reserves made sure the result was still never in question.
"The B side can keep up with the A side (in scrimmages)," said Forsythe, who was 5-for-6 with six stuffs. "This was more intense than a scrimmage."
She started the final two sets. Tuaniga came in for the final two points of the second set — Mafua served the last eight — and stuffed one ball and killed the next. In the final set, she went for four more kills.
"We want to be good, no matter what," she said. "We also wanted to go all out for the seniors, because it’s the last time they’re playing LaTech."
The group that gives the UH starters all they can handle in daily, knock-down, drag-out scrimmages — Shoji figures the reserves win a third of the time — would not be denied. All looked better, and more comfortable, playing as a unit than they do subbing one or two at time.
"I didn’t have any doubt they would go in and play well," said Shoji, who claimed he would have stayed with the reserves even if the set streak was in danger.
By the end, Hawaii had out-hit the Techsters .272 to negative .022. It outblocked and out-aced them 8-2. Eight Wahine collected at least three kills, with Forsythe and Tuaniga providing the most eye-opening numbers.
Shoji wasn’t surprised at Tuaniga, and he preached patience for the redshirt freshman. Forsythe will see more time.
"Lex has been coming on offensively," Shoji said. "Getting there faster, elevating better, her arm has speeded up a little bit. She’s going to help us down the stretch."
» Tuaniga (five) set a career high for kills, and Goodman (four) tied hers, while Alexis Forsythe tied her career high for blocks (six).
» Nebraska’s loss at Texas last week dropped it to fifth in this week’s AVCA Coaches Top 25, with Hawaii returning to fourth. Florida, Cal and Stanford are 1-2-3.
» Hartong will do a blog at wacsports.com every Monday this month.
» Hawaii goes on the road again next week, playing at Fresno State (Nov. 11), San Jose State (Nov. 13) and third-place Nevada (Nov. 14). The final home match, and senior night for Mafua and Ka’aihue, is Nov. 18 against Idaho.
|New Mexico St.||9||2||.818||2||15-10|
|San Jose State||3||8||.273||8||8-17|
Hawaii def. Louisiana Tech New Mexico State 25-13, 25-11, 25-18
Fresno State at New Mexico State
Boise State at Utah State
San Jose State at Louisiana Tech
Idaho at Nevada
Hawaii at Hawaii Pacific, 7 p.m.
No. 4 HAWAII DEF. LOUISIANA TECH 25-13, 25-11, 25-18
LADY TECHSTERS (11-16, 0-10 WAC)
RAINBOW WAHINE (22-1, 12-0 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 — LaTech (2): Pinto, Hunsucker. Hawaii (8): Danielson 3, Hartong 2, Goodman 2, Mafua. Service Errors — LaTech (6): Fritz 2, Bin, Pinto, Stanley, Alexander. Hawaii (6): Hewitt, Mafua, Satele, Hartong, Ka’aihue, Forsythe. Assists — LaTech (20): Bin 17, Vido, Pinto, Germany. Hawaii (31): Mafua 15, Uiato 13, Danielson, Maeda, Ka’aihue. T — 1:30. Officials — Eric Asami, Ernie Ho. A — 3,242 .