Hawaii defeats Northern Colorado in first round of NCAA women’s tournament
How much difference can 99 days make? No. 18 Hawaii and No. 20 San Diego will find out in tonight’s second-round match of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
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How much difference can 99 days make?
No. 18 Hawaii and No. 20 San Diego will find out in tonight’s second-round match of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
In a reprise of the Aug. 30 season opener at the Stan Sheriff Center, the Rainbow Wahine (25-3) and the Toreros (25-5) will be playing for their postseason lives and not just a chance at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic title.
Hawaii advanced to the second round for the first time since 2016, turning back Northern Colorado 26-24, 24-26, 25-8, 25-15 on Friday. A crowd of 7,126 watched for 2 hours and 3 minutes as the Wahine, boosted by the return of junior Jolie Rasmussen for the first time in 20 matches, extended their winning streak to 12.
In Friday’s opener, San Diego won its 10th straight, eliminating No. 23 Washington State 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 25-14.
“They’re good,” Wahine coach Robyn Ah Mow said of the Toreros. “They’ve got good players. We have to serve tough and I want that same energy we had at the end tonight.
“It was awesome to have (Rasmussen) back. She’s been out. Our team is whole again.”
Senior McKenna Ross had 14 kills and senior setter Norene Iosia had her 18th double-double of the year (25 assists, 13 digs) to lead Hawaii. Iosia, the Big West Player of the Year, also had six blocks — one solo — and four aces, bringing her career total to 139 and tying Martina Cincerova for second on the program’s all-time list.
Ninety-nine days ago, then-unranked Hawaii upset No. 21 USD in a 2 hour, 17-minute marathon five-setter, jump-starting an impressive campaign that had the Wahine winning their first Big West title in Ah Mow’s three seasons. Hawaii also earned the No. 12 seed and postseason hosting duty for the first time since 2013.
The Toreros didn’t fare too badly the rest of the season either, winning the West Coast Conference title, a run that included taking the series against rival BYU for the first time since 2011. It earned USD a trip to what is considered the toughest subregional out of 32, where there were three conference champions and three teams inside the top 50 of the Ratings Percentage Index.
“I think both teams have improved over the course of the season,” Toreros coach Jennifer Petrie said. “We’re a lot different. They are a different team.”
The biggest difference was freshman opposite Hanna Frohling not playing against Hawaii in the first meeting. On Friday, the WCC Freshman of the Year had a match-high 17 kills.
Oregon transfer Rasmussen, injured during the Sept. 12 match with West Virginia, made her Wahine debut with 19 kills against USD. On Friday, she was instant offense starting Set 3, finishing with four kills as Hawaii outscored Northern Colorado 50-23 in the final two sets.
Junior hitter Brooke Van Sickle, freshman middle Amber Igiede and junior middle Sky Williams each had nine kills, Williams not committing an error on 11 swings in hitting .818.
For the Big Sky champion Bears, junior Muff Taylor finished with a match-high 19 kills and sophomore hitter Kailey Jo Ince 14. Junior libero Taylor Els had a match-high 22 digs.
Hawaii and Northern Colorado were very even the first two sets. The difference after the break was the Wahine being able to take advantage of the Bears’ rotation that had junior setter Daisy Schultz in the front row.
A 10-0 serving run with two aces by senior setter Bailey Choy had the Wahine rolling at 14-4 in Set 3. In Set 4, it was graduating libero Rika Okino’s serving that had the Wahine pulling away at 14-6.
“We played hard but maybe not well in the final two (sets),” Bears coach Lyndsey Oates said. “I can’t fault our effort. We didn’t play better longer.”