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Minnesota rolls over Hawaii after Taylor’s injury


    Hawaii’s Nikki Miller clutches her injured ankle early into the Wahine’s match against Minnesota in the NCAA volleyball tournament.

MINNEAPOLIS >> Playing without injured senior All-American Nikki Taylor, Hawaii saw its season come to an abrupt end, swept by second-seeded Minnesota 25-17, 25-17, 25-19 in tonight’s second round of the NCAA volleyball tournament.

Taylor landed awkwardly after going up for a block early in Set 1. She was taken off the court with Minnesota leading 2-1, returning on crutches with her left ankle encased in ice after the first set.

In a post-match interview, Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said that Taylor told him she “heard a crack” when she fell.

It was the second consecutive season that the Golden Gophers (27-4) eliminated the Rainbow Wahine (23-6) from the postseason. Last year, it came in the regional final in Ames, Iowa.

Tonight, Minnesota extended the longest active home-winning streak in the country to 34, improving to 15-0 at the Sports Pavilion this season. As the highest seed remaining in the pod after the second round, the Gophers will host the regional next Thursday and Saturday.

Hawaii, its 11 match-winning streak snapped, was led by senior hitter Annie Mitchem’s 13 kills and 11 from junior McKenna Granato. Junior libero Savanah Kahakai finished with 17 digs, giving her 1,001 for career.

Senior hitter Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with 13 kills. Senior middle Paige Tapp had 10 kills with no errors and junior middle Molly Lohman also had 10.

Taylor finishes her career with 1,377 kills, ranking her 11th on UH’s career list.

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    • With Nikki injured so was the outcome as it became such.

      Nikki is worth 5 points a set at minimum, either by a kill, serve or a defensive play. Thus the score of 25-17 meant that swing could be 20-22 at that point of the game. Not an exact math formula but a game that would be closer with a possible different outcome. The what ifs will never be known.

      The RPI is now in favor of the power 5 conferences. They get 6 to 8 teams a year to play in the post season. A good excuse for those in power of the rules that makes them look like they are objective. Full of baloney.

  • What a heart breaking way for Taylor to end the season. She endured so much pain this year, way more than anyone should be subjected to. Rest played hard, no shame in losing to a far superior team. Like going to war with bb guns against howitzers. Clearly, the disparity between an elite team and just a good one was so evident. When considering that UH struggled against all decent teams this, it’s questionable they deserved the 12th team ranking. Given every power conference probably has at least 3 teams better than UH, there is every indication that in any given year from now on, it’s more realistic that UH, at best is about 25th. Winning titles in their conference is basically meaningless except it gives them automatic entry into post season. That’s the situation UH program is n now, where it goes from here is the big question, isn’t it. The Master can stay on, continue to pile up basically meaningless wins, continue to make post season, grumble about where the team ends up, then in really good years, survive the first round. All the while the disparity between his program and the elite ones grow wider and wider. Sorry but I’m tired of that replay over and over again.

    • Aw oxy. Did your mama let you use the computer again? Darn, I warned her about letting fourteen year old children go unsupervised on the internet. Fact is, if Nikki was not hurt, the Wahine would have won in four or five sets. When she went down so early in the match,it probably deflated the Wahine’s spirits. Yet they still went on to score 19,19, and 17 points. Add in 20 plus points, 2-3 aces and six blocks, and we could easily have won this match. Nikki is our best player and will probably be a consensus AA. Losing her left us with virtually no chance to win. Oxy is too young to know much about volleyball so I don’t think any of us can take him seriously. Oxy, your mama is calling you. Get off the computer.

      • Wait…aren’t you basically agreeing with me? Learn how to read please. Fact is, you can play all the “IF” games you want but none of it is based on reality. To say UH would have won is crazy talk. Would we have been much more competitive with Taylor? Of course, it doesn’t take mucho of a genius to see that. Doesn’t matter how many points UH scored without her in there, they were never in the match. As I said, they played hard, nothing to be ashamed of but you really need to get a reality check. Lastly, thanks for calling me young, wow, what a compliment.

        • I think this comment alone proves you don’t know much. I agree, Minnesota is a good, big team.

          HOWEVER, with Taylor out of the lineup, UH setters had few options. Add the fact the passing was suspect again, Minnesota stacked their block to the outside, Mitchem and Granato was in for a tough night.

        • Uh, no. I don’t think I agree with you about much of anything when it comes to the Wahine volleyball team. But you can flatter yourself by thinking that. You hear that oxy? Your mama’s calling you again.

        • Oxy tells the truth and we need that. Too much dream thinking. An easy conference can mislead as to the quality of our teams as we see in football and b-ball.

      • I totally disagree with you. This Wahine Team are true Warriors, in every sense of the word. This team had many injuries this year, especially to their major players, and to accomplish what they did is truly amazing.

    • It would be the epitome of foolishness to think that any team could beat the number 1 ranked team in the Nation in their home court without your Star and MVP conference player. Only a troll could make such a comment.

    • I disagree with you. For the Wahine Team to accomplish what they did this year, with the amount of injuries they had, is amazing. Especially, during the pre-conference season. My hat is off to these Wahine players. They fought a good fight. Stood up for all that Wahine Volleyball means. They are true Warriors, in every sense of the word.

    • totally agree. UH was overrated alls season long. One can tell as early as the preseason whether the UH has a championship team or not. I said at that time they would go down easily in the playoffs and they did. Nikki did a terrific job. But no, this was never going o be a big-time team.

      • You are so full of it. A legend in your own mind.

        Can discuss the what if’s but what good would it do. Look at the plot that has gone on in women’s volleyball and almost all aspects of collegiate sports due to where the money flows.

    • The last 8 champions came from the Big-10. Nebraska being part of it while Big-8 and Big-10.

      Prior to 2006 all champions west of the Rockies except 4 schools.

      NCAA plot to have the big money making conferences to dominate. Remember they stating they wanted the sport to catch on over the rest of the country and all more teams and exposure to everyone east of the Rockies.

      It is time the NCAA formula being changed regarding that mentality that was initiated to spread the opportunity around.

      Not being in a conference with high RPI rated teams is a formula to expect 1 or 2 teams at most from the small conferences.

      Where is the equality and equal opportunity for all schools. The NCAA and its big money making schools control the money thus controlling the rules.

    • Shoji needs to up his recruiting game if her expects to advance further in the playoffs as every year the opposing team has better overall talent.

  • You people make me sick with your negative comments. Not many teams get this far competing against Power conferences with deep pockets. I’ll take these winning seasons any time because when Shoji retires I feel for the next coach who has to put up with you negative birds. I pray that Taylor has a speedy recovery and mahalo for these young student/athletes giving their all for the school and the state.

  • It felt like losing your franchise QB in the playoffs. Even if they managed to win that game. They’re likley not running the table. So, the energy was just let out of the team.

  • I can’t wait to see next season’s team. Greeley will be completely healed. Iosia will start her second year as setting. All the young players will have more experience. Granato and Castillo–will be Juniors. Burns to backup Maglio, Sibley outside, Smith and Ross in the back row. Our Senior leaders will be Kahakai, Maglio, and Koelsch. We have three new frontrow players coming in, too. I like the pipeline. More players to develop. Go Rainbow Wahine, and Mahalo to them!

    • We lose a superstar and no one else on the team comes close to replacing her, unless there’s a mystery recruit we don’t know about. Granato will still get blocked more than she get kills against better competition (unless she grows another few inches). None of the others you mention are game changers but only decent role players.

      • Not one to agree with Mr. Oxy on most things but this time I have to agree. Hawaii will have no terminators like Nikki and Annie. As far any recruits, NaWahine fell well short of any top 50 players.

      • I agree, we need better recruits or maybe a better recruiter. I hope these new recruits coming in have some potential to be game changers and not just decent players.

        • Maybe by the time the new recruits are Seniors, they may develop into being more then just role players. This has to be the worst recruiting class Dave Shoji has ever brought in. There is not even a player ranked in the Top 150.

      • I once questioned the recruiting process and how they were not able to recruit the cream of the crop. Never made it through the blog policeman.

        It is apparent that the majority of the good players will show their talents in their freshman year and progress to an elite status by the time they become seniors. Very seldom they become overnight sensations in their junior year. In this sport they usually have it as freshmen and if not will not rise to the top. Yes, there are always exceptions.

        Look at all the freshmen that were starters at UH and had 4 year careers. Very seldom that they did not have a stellar career here. How many became great players in their junior year and senior years and seldom played in their freshmen and sophomore years.

        Thus looking at this years freshmen players, Iosia, Smith, are likely to continue that trend. Sibley is a good player but will not develop into an elite player. Either you show your wares given the opportunity as a freshman and if not you will be a good and decent player during your career.

  • Sad ending to a good season. Just imagine if Nikki ( and Annie ) was healthy at the beginning of the season. Maybe the NaWahine win one or two preseason games more. Then NaWahine gets seeded elsewhere, not Minnesota and Nikki stays healthy ( not stepping on a Gopher foot ) and they advance to the final four. There the NaWahine plays the game of their lives ( or the Gophers play their worst game of their lives ) to beat the Gophers for the national championship. Coach Shoji retires.
    Sometime life has a way of nipping at your butt, just need to breathe deep and live for another day.
    Mahalo NaWahine!

  • Don’t care for the title of the article. Implies that Minnesota only won because of Nikki’s injury which is not the case. Anyway, congrats to the Rainbow Wahine for a great season!

    • Could Minnesota really win, if Nikki Taylor did not get hurt, I truly think not. What is truly strange is that this is the 2nd year in a row a major player gets hurt against Minnesota. Last year it was Kalei Greeley, this year, Nikki Taylor. Both times, landing on a Minnesota players foot, which was on the line or over it.

    • I would not say, the better team won. But a team that was fortunate, or just plain lucky, to have the opposing team’s star player go down with an injury. For a team, without their star player to get 19 points on Minnesota, just shows you how fortunate and lucky Minnesota was, or that Minnesota is just not as good as people may think they are.

  • To me, what is more important is that Dave Shoji return for at least one more season. This Wahine Team and program is at a very critical junction right now. Next year’s team will be without a true “go to” player for the first time in a very long time. None of the recruits coming in can you consider to be “Star” quality, at least as Freshman. Next year’s team, will need the guidance of Dave Shoji. His expertise in developing an average player into “Star” quality. If Dave does decide to retire, the best I see the Wahine Team being is middle of the pack in the BWC.

  • May you rest in peace Alan Kang. Pay no attention to these insensitive clowns who know so little, particularly the one who calls himself oxymoron (emphasis on the last two syllables).

    Shoji has managed to build a perennial top-20 program despite the growth of women’s volleyball, and the Power 5 schools pouring resources into the sport and using it as a loss-leader to comply with gender-equity.

    • What do you mean, pouring resources into the sport, I hope you kidding. Have you not noticed that the majority of the gyms these teams play in, look like high school gyms.

  • I noticed how the Gophers hit the ball by reaching the palms of their hands way back behind their head and hit with a cannon shot. I don’t see enough of that on our team. The balls they hit are hard to return. I hope Shoji noticed that too. This kind of hitting is prevalent among the better teams in the country. This is a new era in Women’s Volleyball. Real Hard and Swift.

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