Vulcans Swept by Azuza Pacific to Close Homestand
Coming back home was supposed to help the University of Hawai`i at Hilo women’s volleyball team build on a 3-2 California road trip. Instead, the Vulcans’ three match homestand produced three consecutive losses, capped by a straight set loss to Azuza Pacific Monday night in front of 155 fans, mostly students, at the UHH campus gymnasium.
Set scores were 25-21, 25-16, and 25-21.
Although there were still bright spots, like Olivia Lane’s five kills in a struggling middle attack, the loss was still frustrating for UHH head coach Tino Reyes.
“We didn’t pass well enough, and we didn’t play defense, because we didn’t serve well enough. They ran their offense at will and then they were certain plays where they ran the edge to number six (Jackie Landers) and we didn’t stop it except for one time.” We just didn’t make a whole lot of adjustments on the block.”
The Cougars rarely trailed at any point in the match. In the opening set, they were down by only a point at 1-0 and 8-7. Everytime they trailed, they turned to one of their several capable attackers to turn the tables around. Then, they would stretch their lead out with the help of their opponents. With the first set even at 10, both Abbey Wade and Bria Morgan committed attack errors, and APU’s leading hitter, Jackie Landers, continued the momentum with two consecutive kills to open up a 14-10 lead. UHH would close within two before losing the opening set.
Landers led APU with 21 kills and a .447 attacking percentage. Coming into the match, she was the team’s lead with 3.97 kills per set.
Azuza Pacific carried their momentum into the second set, where they never trailed at any point in the frame. Helping their cause was an off set from UHH freshman Bria Morgan. The NCAA Division II leader in kills and points per set struggled to keep the ball in play, After recording ten kills in the opening set, Morgan only contributed four in the second set with seven attack errors.
Morgan heated back up in the third, putting up 10 more kills and only two errors in the final set. The Vulcans would once again hold three one point leads early on in the third set. But like the opening set, the Cougars were just that much better throughout the duration of the period. While the Vulcans hit .364 in the third, APU hit .429, committing only on error in 35 swings, leading to their sweep.
“We’re asking her (Morgan) to shoulder a lot of hitting. She’s going to hit a lot of balls that are out of system, so the block’s going to be good on her, and she’s going to be hitting some sets that are not to her liking,” Reyes explained of the freshman’s attacking role. “We always tell the hitters that they still need to keep the ball in play and we can play defense around it.”
“We cannot string up good plays,” explained Reyes on his team’s inability to hold leads. “We didn’t make a bunch of good plays in that game. We make a good play, and then we make two bad ones.”
As mentioned earlier, Lane’s five kills, including a perfect four on four attacks, were a welcome spot for Reyes considering the inconsistency that has been there all season. The third year head coach said after the match that he wonders if they can put everything together, including a better middle attack, to better compete against the rest of the PacWest.
They will need to fire on all cylinders if they want to hang with Brigham Young University – Hawaii. The eighth-ranked Seasiders, who are 13-2 overall and 8-0 in conference, will host UH Hilo on Friday at the Cannon Activities Center in Laie. Match time is set for 7:30 p.m. The match will air on BYUtv.