UH-Hilo Volleyball Stays Unbeaten With Win over UAA
Tino Reyes’ youth movement sparked the University of Hawai`i at Hilo women’s volleyball team to a second straight victory, sweeping Alaska Anchorage 25-22, 26-24, 25-20 Saturday afternoon at the UH-Hilo Gymnasium.
Marley Strand-Nicolaisen, a freshman out of Na`alehu, led UH-Hilo with 20 kills, including the clinching kill to close the second set after her team rallied from a deficit of as much as five points early.
“We needed all of her swings in this match,” said Reyes, entering his fourth year as the Vulcans’ head coach. “We won in straight sets but if you look at the scores, the scores were really tight. It wasn’t a runaway, so we needed a lot of those kills.”
The Ka`u High graduate’s second set clincher came after a stellar defensive play by teammate Kahea Rodrigues. The junior, who graduated from Roosevelt in 2002, dug up a Seawolves attack but hit it over the net. Luckily, no one was around when the ball landed inside the left sideline just above the three-meter line, swaying the momentum in UH-Hilo’s favor prior to taking the set.
“I told (assistant coach) Randy (Nako) that I didn’t get Kahea Rodrigues in and she’s usually worth two or three points,” Reyes explained after the match. “Luckily we kinda hung in at the tail end and got her in and she made a big play that killed any kind of momentum for the other team.”
Another newcomer, freshman Kyndra Trevino-Scott, stepped up in the second and third sets with timely swings, finishing with 10 kills and no errors.
“Her and the setter (Sienna Davis) has developed this rapport that’s pretty unbelieveable for playing two weeks together. She’s a very smart player,” said Reyes. “When her set’s not to her liking, she’ll do something else besides hitting it into the net or hitting it out of bounds. Those are good qualities to have on our team.”
UH-Hilo’s 2-0 start is impressive with a fresh squad, considering last year’s 0-7 start with the NCAA leader in kills per set, Bria Morgan, and veteran leadership. Morgan has since transferred and only three players remain from last season’s roster, but the youthful exuberance has carried this team through the season’s first week. Saturday’s performance was a prime example
“The freshman didn’t play like freshman,” Reyes emphasized. “We have three freshmen out there starting and they are pretty savvy and pretty composed.”
UH-Hilo’s non-conference schedule continues Thursday with a home match against East Central University. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN Radio, AM 850 in Hilo and AM 790 in Kona, as well as online at ESPNHawaii.com.
Alaska Anchorage fell to 2-1 on the season.