Sports

UH-Hilo Women’s Volleyball Stays Unbeaten in Five-Set Battle

September 6, 2013, 7:22 AM HST
* Updated September 6, 4:05 PM
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The University of Hawai`i at Hilo women’s volleyball team had its back against the wall for the first time this season against East Central University.

In what may be an indication of the Vulcans’ mental toughness, UH-Hilo rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Tigers in five sets Thursday night in front of a loud student section and over 320 fans at the UH-Hilo Gymnasium.

Set scores were 25-20, 23-25, 24-26, 25-19, 15-5.

Despite the win, UH-Hilo coach Tino Reyes looked hard at what didn’t work in the match. When asked after the match what his team showed him in the five-game thriller, he looked at the team’s preparation.

“We didn’t come prepared to play,” Reyes explained. “Coach has a lot of responsibility. I guess I didn’t prepare them well enough. The other team played really well.”

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The Vulcans hit .134 for the match, committing 29 errors over the course of the night.

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“We were stuck in first gear. We just didn’t get out of first gear. The best that we played was that fifth game and all that was because we served and passed better than they did,” Reyes explained.

UH-Hilo (3-0) never trailed in the first set and led for much of the second. The experienced Tigers, however, turned the tables on their opponents late in the frame, going on a 6-1 scoring run to turn a two point deficit into a 24-21 lead and set point. The Vulcans got two of those points back, but Danielle Essix, one of seven ECU seniors, closed out the set with a kill to hand the Vulcans their first lost set of the year.

It appeared that the Vulcans had shaken the second set off when coming out of the intermission break. UHH went on a 6-0 run to take a 7-2 lead early in the third set and had led by as much as six points in the early stages of the frame.

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The Tigers, however, mounted another run, thanks to four attack errors by the home team. ECU’s 6-0 run gave them a 15-13 third set lead. The Vulcans rallied back with a 6-0 run late in the set to take a 24-22 lead and hold set point. ECU’s Sarah Simpson and Hayley Gerken each tallied kills to level the set at 24. Marley Strand-Nicolaisen’s attack error gave the Tigers a 25-24 lead. The Tigers closed out the set when UHH’s Shelby Harguess pushed her middle attack wide against a late-forming block.

UH-Hilo controlled the fourth set behind an increased focus on setting freshman middle blocker Kyndra Trevino-Scott. The Penryn, CA native pounded down seven of her match-high 20 kills in the fourth to help even the match at two sets each.

Reyes called Trevino-Scott’s performance “amazing” after the match. “We decided after the second game…if we can get her the ball, let’s get her the ball. The setter got her the ball and good things happened.”

East Central (0-1) looked lost to open the fifth set, spotting the Vulcans the first six points of the deciding frame. Half of those points came on ECU attack errors. UH-Hilo didn’t let up throughout the rest of the set, closing it out with a double-digit lead.

“We got on a roll serving and we won the serve-and-pass battle,” said Reyes in recapping the fifth set.

Sophomore Hayley Gerken led the Tigers with 16 kills and two aces. Essix and Ashley Williams each added 10 kills.

Both teams return to the floor Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

East Central 20 25 26 19 5 – 2

Hawai`i Hilo 25 23 24 25 15 – 3

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