Vulcans Drop Fifth Straight in Five-Set Stunner
Up two sets to none and four points away from picking up their first win, the University of Hawaii at Hilo looked ready to get the season’s slow start behind them.
What followed can only be described as a crushing collapse.
Southern Arkansas University (3-2) put up six straight points to the the third set, then forced extra play to win the third set. The Muleriders carried that momentum into a tough fourth set and manhandled the Vulcans in the fifth to pull out the victory.
Set scores were 23-25, 14-25, 27-25, 25-21, 15-5.
The result was stunning to the 195 in attendance at the UH Hilo Gymnasium, especially after how dominant the Vulcans looked in the second set. The home team committed only three attack errors in that set, while the Muleriders hit -.067 with nine errors.
In the third, the Vulcans led 21-16 late in the set. Southern Arkansas went on a six point surge to take the lead thanks to two Vulcan errors, three kills, and an ace. After trading the lead twice, defensive specialist Kelsey Webb entered the match and unloaded an ace to extend the match.
“We didn’t focus in the last part of that third game and I hope that’s a lesson for us to all learn,” said head coach Tino Reyes.
Both teams stayed even though the fourth set, but Southern Arkansas opened up leads early on, taking a five point lead at 13-8 and a six point lead at 22-16 before closing out the fourth.
In the fifth, UH Hilo (0-5) looked like they had hit a wall. Southern Arkansas started the deciding set by putting up the first four points, aided by two attack errors from UHH freshman Bria Morgan. The Vulcans got back within two at 7-5, but the Muleriders scored the next eight points to close out the match. UH Hilo did not record a single kill in the final frame.
“I don’t like our response in the fifth game,” said Reyes. “Our response in the fifth game was terrible.”
The numbers backed up that statement. UH Hilo hit -.304 in that set with seven errors. Morgan had three of those errors, while sophomore Olivia Lane had two. Reyes took Morgan out four points into the final set after she hit her two consecutive errors. She would re-enter later in the set, but the results never followed her back onto the court.
“She just doesn’t quite understand sometimes that you just keep the ball in play and give them opportunities to make mistakes, but she didn’t quite do that,” Reyes said of Morgan’s decision making. The freshman from Soquel, CA finished with 21 kills to go along with 18 errors. “I don’t know if it’s habit, confidence, that’s she’s always been the big hitter so she gets to hit what she wants. I don’t think she gets to do that here.”
The finish took a little of the shine off of the sister rivalry that took place on the floor. Southern Arkansas featured setter Klaire Blasco Vine, the sister of UH Hilo outside hitter Patty Snel. Vine admitted to her head coach, Steven Gream, on the ride over to the gym that she was a little excited about the opportunity to play her sister, and as the team van got closer to the gym, Vine admitted that her excitement grew. She had 46 assists in the match with a pair of kills, too.
Courtney Smith led Southern Arkansas with 19 kills, while Denise De Vine added 15.
Both teams will meet again Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at the UH Hilo Gymnasium.
Southern Arkansas – 23 14 27 25 15
UH Hilo – 25 25 25 21 5