Junior hitter Brooke Van Sickle returned from a four-match injury absence and helped spark her team to a five-set comeback win over UC Davis tonight on the 25th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Stan Sheriff Center.
Van Sickle, her left leg heavily bandaged, appeared in the third set and contributed seven kills and eight digs the rest of the way as UH (16-3, 6-2 Big West) pulled off the reverse sweep of the Aggies (12-8, 4-3).
UH scored the last three points after Davis tied the tense final set at 12.
Setter/hitter Norene Iosia had nine kills, nine digs and 23 assists before getting smeared with the arena’s birthday cake by coach Robyn Ah Mow. Middle Sky Williams put down 10 kills on 16 swings and was in on five blocks, Hanna Hellvig had a team-high 16 kills, and McKenna Ross added 10 kills on 32 swings. The Wahine hit .303 to Davis’ .265.
Davis hit .314 in Set 1, going ahead early, then weathering a Wahine comeback when UH took a 13-12 lead on Hellvig’s kill. The Aggies scored the next three points, remained ahead and put away the frame on Mahalia White’s kill.
Set 2 went even more convincingly to the visitors, as they hit .414. UH fell behind after the first few points and faced a 24-19 deficit. The Wahine turned back three Aggies set points before succumbing on Bailey Choy’s service error.
UH inserted Van Sickle into the lineup to start Set 3, giving her team and the crowd a much-needed lift. The Oregon transfer put down a kill for a 9-7 lead and she combined with Amber Igiede on a stuff a few points later. Van Sickle put down a tip shot for a 16-14 lead. She tooled the block to remain up two at 19-17. UH took the last two points on a power sideline shot by Ross and a double block by Iosia and Williams.
The Wahine rode their momentum into Set 4, leading by as many as 11 points on a double block by Williams and Ross as they hit .520. They allowed Davis to creep back within seven, but finally put away the set on Igiede’s kill in the middle.
Davis took the first two points of the final set, but UH battled back with five straight points, launched by Hellvig’s putdown kill followed by Van Sickle’s ace. Hellvig and Igiede collaborated to send a Davis shot back to make it 5-2. Davis won a lengthy point, however, to get within 7-5 and Iosia hit out on the next play. Iosia’s cross-court shot to get to 8-6 was upheld by replay review and the teams switched sides. The up official then called a yellow card after it protested Choy being called for a back-row attack that knotted the set at 8. Davis’ Jane Seslar lobbed in an ace for a 10-9 Aggies lead.
Van Sickle was blocked to give Davis an 11-9 lead, but UH tied it up at 11 on Iosia’s ace, putting her alone in eighth on the Wahine career list. She drew an illegal back-row attack on the next point, and the Aggies committed an illegal back-row block to give UH match point. A Davis attack error gave the Wahine the match.