Hawaii’s 19-match winning streak in Big West play ended today with a 25-16, 25-16, 25-23 loss to UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif., in a matchup of the top two teams in the conference standings.
UCSB middle blocker Rowan Ennis put away 11 kills, including match point, in 14 attempts with just one error and the Gauchos (13-9, 9-1 Big West) posted a .359 hitting percentage to edge past UH into first place.
Abrielle Bross and Michelle Ohwobete added 10 kills each. Middle blocker Deni Wilson had four kills in seven attempts and was in on eight of UCSB’s 11 blocks.
UH outside hitter Brooke Van Sickle led the Rainbow Wahine (11-6, 8-1) with 11 kills and middle blocker Amber Igiede added 10 in the program’s first conference loss since being swept at Cal Poly on Oct. 11, 2019. UH’s Big West win streak began with a sweep at UCSB the following day and appeared to be in jeopardy from the start of today’s meeting.
Punahou graduate Mehana Ma’a went on a four-point service run early in the first set and had a three-point turn in the second as the Gauchos ran away with both sets.
The third was far more competitive, with UH taking a 10-7 lead and later rallying from a 17-14 deficit to tie it at 19-19. After UH tied it again at 22-22, Wilson put down a kill in the middle and a Wahine hitting error gave UCSB match point.
Van Sickle extended the match with a kill, but Ennis ended it with her 11th kill of the night.
Ma’a had 23 assists while sharing setting duties with Grace Kloss (19 assists), and libero Macall Peed had a match-high 23 digs.
UH ended the night hitting .174 with 21 errors, 11 coming on UCSB blocks. The Wahine entered the week as the top blocking team in the Big West but finished with three, two by Riley Wagoner, who posted eight kills.
UH continues its road trip Saturday with a 4 p.m. match at Cal State Northridge.