Hawaii’s Norene Iosia helps Rainbow Wahine volleyball team win its eighth in a row
So close. No one realized that Norene Iosia was a kill away from a triple-double in Friday night’s Big West volleyball match at UC Davis.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
No one realized that Norene Iosia was a kill away from a triple-double in Friday night’s Big West volleyball match at UC Davis. Hawaii’s senior setter-hitter had already reached her 60th career double-double (assists-digs) midway through Set 3 and her ninth kill had the Rainbow Wahine rolling at 20-11 in Set 4.
“I wish I had known,” Bailey Choy, Hawaii’s other senior setter said. “I would have set her.”
Iosia (28 assists, 13 digs) didn’t get the triple, which would have been her first of the season and sixth of her career, but she and No. 19 Hawaii got what mattered: a 26-24, 22-25, 25-22, 25-15 victory in Davis, Calif. It kept the Wahine (21-3, 11-2) atop the standings, a game ahead of UC Santa Barbara (19-3, 9-2) and Cal Poly (16-7, 9-2)
The Mustangs host the Gauchos today in San Luis Obispo, where Cal Poly is riding the nation’s longest active home winning streak of 29. The outcome will break the tie for second, with the winner chasing Hawaii in the conference title race.
Should the Wahine win their final three league matches, they will claim the Big West’s automatic NCAA tournament berth by virtue of holding the tiebreaker over both UCSB and Cal Poly. Hawaii can take another step toward that when it closes out its final regular-season road trip of the season at UC Riverside (6-17, 2-10) on Sunday.
On Friday, the Wahine needed 2 hours and 1 minute to dispatch the Aggies (14-12, 6-7) for their eighth consecutive victory. Freshman Hanna Hellvig had a match-high 17 kills for her 19th outing in double figures, and junior hitter Brooke Van Sickle added 12 kills as Hawaii defeated UC Davis for the 13th time in a row.
A season-high crowd of 1,378 at The Pavilion saw Aggies senior hitter Lauren Matias put down 13 kills in her final home match. Sophomore middle Josephine Ough also had 13 kills.
“I think we had more fans than they did,” said Choy, who finished with 19 assists. “We’re so lucky to have this kind of following on the road, fans who love Wahine volleyball.
“I think tonight it was definitely our heart that won it for us. Defense was a big part of it.”
Hawaii outdug Davis 61-52, led by graduating libero Rika Okino’s 17 digs.
“Rika did amazing,” Iosia said. “After that first set, she really got a feel for the game and was digging every freaking ball.”
The reigning conference Defensive Player of the Week came up big late, frustrating the Aggies hitters, especially Matias. The senior didn’t have a single kill in Set 4, with the final three points of the match coming on her three hitting errors.
There were few similarities between Friday’s match and the one played at the Stan Sheriff Center on Oct. 20. Last month, Hawaii needed a reverse sweep against Davis to prevent the upset, 22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-12.
This time, the Aggies were unable to close out Set 1. Hawaii never led until 23-22, breaking the fourth tie on freshman Riley Wagoner’s first kill. It would be tied twice more, the last at 24, as Davis held off one set point.
Iosia’s second kill gave the Wahine their second swing and Hawaii ended it when freshman middle Amber Igiede stuffed Leonie Strehl.
After the Aggies pulled away in Set 2, the match turned on a Set 3 serving run by Iosia.
It was 13-13 when Iosia went back to the baseline. When she was done, she had two aces and the Wahine a 19-13 lead.
Davis rallied to within a point twice, the last at 23-22, before Van Sickle finished it with two kills.
Hawaii took the lead for good in Set 4 at 8-7 on another kill by Van Sickle. Hellvig had three kills and was in on a block as the Wahine pulled away at 20-11.
“It wasn’t my best match,” Iosia said. “I think everyone on the team stepped up tonight.”
Her numbers tell a different story. Iosia became the ninth Hawaii setter to reach the 3,000-assist mark. She is at 3,019 heading into Sunday’s match.
She also continued her climb up the career digs list, passing Lily Kahumoku and Martina Cincerova for No. 10 (1,114)
Hawaii also outblocked Davis 8-7, with junior middle Sky Williams in on five.