The No. 11 Hawaii women’s volleyball team fell in stunning fashion tonight, as last-place UC Irvine pulled off an 11-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-16, 15-13 reverse sweep at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was the first win for the Anteaters (4-12, 1-3 Big West) against the Rainbow Wahine (12-2, 2-1) in 41 all-time meetings.
A crowd of 5,265 filed out stunned after seeing the Wahine start off with a bang but struggle mightily to put away the Anteaters in their first match back at the Sheriff since Sept. 14.
UH dropped to 10-1 at home this season.
Freshman Onye Ofoegbu (13 kills, .440 hitting) put down the match-winner that capped the Anteaters’ comeback. Abby Marjama had a team-high 14 kills and Loryn Carter added 13 on .423 hitting in one of the biggest wins in UCI’s history.
Setter Norene Iosia — who cranked six service aces to move into ninth all-time at UH with 113 career — nearly served UH back into it in Set 5 after the Wahine trailed by four. Freshman hitter Hanna Hellvig put down 14 kills on .229 hitting for her seventh straight match in double figures, junior middle Skyler Williams hit an efficient .500 with nine kills. But it was a struggle otherwise.
In a dominant first set, Iosia cranked four aces, raising her career total to 111 to tie her with McKenna Granato for ninth all-time.
The Wahine kept it rolling to start the second, jumping out to a 6-0 lead. But they let up and Irvine took advantage to rally back and go up 13-8. UH gradually battled back and Williams put her team up 2-0 for the match on a quick set to the middle from Bailey Choy.
UH struggled to put away the Anteaters in Set 3. UCI hung around and forced coach Robyn Ah Mow to call timeout trailing 23-22. Freshman Riley Wagoner put one down along the sideline to knot it at 23, but Ofoegbu notched a kill and Choy was whistled for an error on a set to keep UH without a sweep in Big West play this year.
Irvine had its way early in Set 4, too, jumping out to a 14-7 lead on three straight Wahine attack errors. Hellvig was blocked for a 17-10 Anteaters lead and Ah Mow called her last timeout of the set. UH scored three straight to get within 22-16, but UCI shut the door on the frame with three straight of its own.
Hellvig got the deciding set started with a kill, and it appeared UH took a 2-0 lead, but UCI won a four-touch challenge. They then won a replayed point on the next play when obstruction was ruled on a cameraman near the Anteaters’ bench. UCI rode the momentum to leads of 3-1, 7-2 and 8-3. A Williams ball called long was overturned on a touch and UH stayed within 12-9 instead of 13-8. Iosia followed with an ace and UH rode her serve to 12-12 on a kill by McKenna Ross. An Irvine service error brought UH within 14-13, but Ofoegbu put a power shot down through the block and UCI players mobbed each other on the floor.