Junior hitter Nikki Taylor, the reigning conference player of the week, put down a match-high 20 kills and No. 8 Hawaii clinched the Big West volleyball title outright Tuesday night, sweeping UC Irvine 26-24, 25-21, 25-14 at the Bren Center in Irvine, Calif.
It was the 19th straight victory for the Rainbow Wahine (24-1, 14-0), winning their 20th conference championship in 21 seasons. Senior middle Olivia Magill added 10 kills with one error, hitting .500, and sophomore middle Emily Maglio added eight kills and was in on five of the team’s eight blocks.
Hawaii outdug UC Irvine 50-38 in the 91-minute match, with sophomore hitter Kalei Greeley finishing with a season-high 14, tying for team-high honors with sophomore libero Savanah Kahakai.
Freshman hitter Harlee Kekauoha had 11 kills to lead the the Anteaters (12-14, 6-8). Sophomore libero Luna Tsujimoto had a match-high 15 digs.
Hawaii improved its series record against UCI to 34-0. It is the eighth Big West title for the Rainbow Wahine to go along with 16 in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Wahine finish out the regular season at Cal Poly Thursday and at UC Santa Barbara. The win gives Hawaii the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Selection Sunday is Nov. 29.