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Hawaii volleyball team beats Denver, earns first 6-0 start since 2004

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    Hawaii’s Tiffany Westerberg dropped a kill next to Denver’s Brianna Green in the fourth set.

The No. 20 Hawaii volleyball team overcame previously unbeaten Denver and a loss of power to the Stan Sheriff Center to win the 2019 Heineken Rainbow Wahine Invitational tonight.

With UH closing in on winning the match, up 19-14 in Set 4, the Sheriff overhead lights spontaneously winked out one by one. Play was delayed for about 20 minutes, then the Rainbow Wahine quickly closed out the Pioneers 25-16, 21-25, 25-15, 25-18.

UH earned its first 6-0 start since 2004 and 10th Heineken Invitational title. Middle Skyler Williams (10 kills, five blocks) was named tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by hitter Jolie Rasmussen (16 kills, 12 digs) and setter Bailey Choy (25 assists, 14 digs).

UH took Set 1 commandingly, with Brooke Van Sickle and Rasmussen going 2-for-2 on swings in the frame. Choy went to them in succession on the last two points to close it out at 25-16, just the second set the Pioneers dropped on the season.

The teams went point for point for much of Set 2, but some errant UH attacks — eight errors in the frame — allowed Denver to surge ahead. Rasmussen came back with a kill and a Pioneers violation tied it up at 19. Williams responded with consecutive kills to get UH within 23-19, but the set ended fittingly on another UH attack error.

Hawaii surged ahead early in the third. Riley Wagoner and Williams combined on a block for a 12-8 lead. A Rasmussen kill and a block by Williams and Hanna Hellvig pushed the lead to 18-10. Tiffany Westerberg put UH up 10 at 24-14 and a Denver service error ended it two points later.

UH led throughout in Set 4 until the loss of power and needed just 10 more points to put it away when play resumed.

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