Hawaii’s growing pains were evident tonight, with St. Mary’s creating most of the aches for the No. 8 Wahine.
Still Hawaii — with only three starters back in the same spots as last season — found enough late to fix what was ailing the team.
Led by junior middle-turned-hitter Emily Hartong’s 17 kills and a stifling block anchored by freshman middle Jade Vorster, the Wahine remained undefeated in their Chevron Invitational at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Hawaii outblocked St. Mary’s 17.5-7.5, including a 6-2 edge in Set 3, to turn back the Gaels 25-20, 22-25, 25-19, 25-19. The Wahine (2-0) will take on No. 6 Stanford for the title tomorrow at 5 p.m. The Cardinal (2-0), getting 14 kills from freshman Jordan Burgess, swept Albany 25-14, 25-7, 25-15 in today’s first match.
The Great Danes (0-2) and Gaels (0-2) play at 3 p.m. for third place.
Vorster finished with 12 kills and no errors in 16 attempts, hitting .750, to go along with six blocks, two solo. Sophomore hitter Jane Croson added 14 kills.
Junior hitter Kristina Graven, a transfer from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, led the Gaels with 15 kills and Samantha Tinsley added 11.
The Wahine appeared to have Set 4 well in hand, with leads of 5-0, 7-1 and 14-7. The Gaels chipped away, tying it at 17.
Sophomore middle Kalei Adolpho put down two kills and added a block to help Hawaii pull away at 23-18. Graven cut it to 23-19 with her 15th kill, only to have Adolpho and Hartong finish it off with consecutive kills.
Adolpho had nine kills with no errors on 14 swings, and was in on six blocks. Hartong also had six blocks, including three solo.