The Big West championship hopes of the No. 21 Hawaii women’s volleyball team remained intact — just barely — with a nail-biting 25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 25-18, 17-15 victory over UC Santa Barbara in front of 5,101 at the Stan Sheriff Center tonight.
Norene Iosia served up her fourth ace on the Rainbow Wahine’s third match point and UH (19-3, 9-2 Big West) drew even with UCSB (19-3, 9-2) in the conference standings going into Sunday’s 5 p.m. showdown with conference leader Cal Poly.
UCSB senior hitter Lindsey Ruddins put down 27 kills on 80 swings to lead the Gauchos to the brink of their second straight win in Honolulu, but the Wahine rallied from down 2-1 in dramatic fashion. They won their sixth straight in sweeping the Gauchos home-and-home.
Hanna Hellvig had a career-high 19 kills; setter/hitter Iosia was one kill away from a triple-double with 33 assists, 16 digs and nine kills; middle Amber Igiede had 10 kills and nine blocks; and McKenna Ross added 10 kills.
UH eked ahead by a few valuable points in Set 1 when UCSB’s offense broke down. Sky Williams’ block solo gave UH a 16-12 lead. Two more blocks, consecutively, made it 22-16. UCSB fought off two set points before Kjia Rivers hit a shot out.
Ruddins emerged in Set 2. UH drew within a point at 20-19, but UCSB closed it out with Ruddins notching her 13th kill on 24 swings and just one error in the frame.
Brooke Van Sickle appeared for the first time in Set 3. But UCSB rode its momentum to a 14-11 lead. UH rallied on Van Sickle’s serve, with her ace knotting it at 14. Then the Gauchos rattled off four straight points, forcing a UH timeout. Van Sickle and Hellvig put down consecutive kills to get the Wahine within 18-17. But USCB rolled off five straight points to seize control and UH turned away just one set point before Van Sickle hit into the antenna.
Freshman Riley Wagoner got a chance early in Set 4. Her thunderous kill drew UH even at 5-5. But UCSB scored the next four. Norene Iosia’s ace got UH back within 11-9. The Gauchos’ advantage was again trimmed to one at 15-14 on a rare attack error by Ruddins. A Torre Glasker hitting error made it 16-all. Wagoner’s kill from the back row gave UH an 18-17 lead, touching off a 7-0 run that would give UH the set handily.
Igiede opened Set 5 with a block solo, but UCSB pushed ahead, 4-2. Ross’ tip shot knotted it at 5 and Iosia’s cross-court slapped shot tied it at 6. Iosia’s power shot gave UH a 7-6 lead. The teams switched sides with the Gauchos up 8-7. Iosia went off the block to tie it at 9. Hellvig went cross-court to even it at 10. Ross put one down to make it 11-all, and Hellvig’s shot put UH up 12-11. Ruddins erased the lead with a quick kill, but Hellvig’s shot from the right put the Wahine up once more at 13-12. UCSB blocked Van Sickle on match point to tie it at 14. A dump shot by UCSB’s setter turned away another match point, but Iosia made sure UH would not waste a third chance.