Point Loma Dominant in Sweep of UH-Hilo
There wasn’t much that the University of Hawai’i at Hilo women’s volleyball team could do to slow down one of the hottest teams in the PacWest Conference on Thursday night.
Point Loma Nazarene dissected UH-Hilo in just about every facet of the game, sweeping the Vulcans in front of a small crowd at the UH-Hilo Gymnasium.
Set scores were 25-12, 25-19, 25-19.
“They were really good tonight. I don’t even know what to say,” UH-Hilo head coach Tino Reyes said of Point Loma. “We had a hard time coaching this game because whatever we did, they had an answer for it.”
Point Loma (17-9 overall, 11-6 PWC) never really let UH-Hilo get off the ground to start the match, thanks to eight team blocks in the opening set, compared to none on the Vulcans’ side of the net. Bethany Mandon and Cayleen Harty led the charge on the front line, holding the Vulcans to a -.053 hitting percentage.
“We weren’t living at the end of the block. We were in the middle of the block,” Reyes said. “I think there were times that we were real good early in that match, and we made one mistake, and it went downhill from there.”
Mandon then turned to the offensive, piling up five kills in the second set to push Point Loma. The 6-foot-1 sophomore from Rocklin, Calif. tallied 12 kills and six blocks while hitting .364 for the match.
The only thing that seemed to slow down the visitors Thursday night was the 10-minute intermission between sets two and three. Point Loma was slow out of the gate in the third set, committing four attack errors and a ball handling error to allow UH-Hilo to take an early 8-2 lead in the frame. But the set changed when the Sea Lions’ Savannah Wedemeyer got behind the service line mid-way through the set.
Wedemeyer, the top setter in the PacWest last year, keyed an 8-0 scoring run to turn an 11-6 deficit into a three-point lead. She struck three of her team’s five aces during that serving stretch, quieting the crowd and paving the way to a sweep.
Point Loma entered the match needing a win to stay alive in its hopes to reach the NCAA West Regional. The Sea Lions were ranked ninth in the poll, released Wednesday, right behind Dixie State.
Senior Heather Leavitt tallied a match-high 13 kills and 17 digs, hitting .243. Point Loma finished with 11.5 team blocks and hit .304 for the match.
UH-Hilo (11-9, 9-8) tallied just 29 kills for the match, compared to Point Loma’s 47. Ka’u High School graduate Marley Strand-Nicolaisen led the Vulcans with six kills and 12 digs, but was held to a -.027 attack percentage.
“You are what your numbers say,” Reyes said on Strand-Nicolaisen’s night. “Not a very good night for all of us, I guess.”
UH-Hilo will close out its home schedule on Saturday with a visit from PacWest leader Dixie State, who lost to Brigham Young University-Hawai’i in straight sets on Thursday. The Vulcans’ lone senior, Shelby Harguess, will be recognized during senior night festivities after the match.
First serve on Saturday is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Point Loma Nazarene 25 25 25 – 3
Hawai’i-Hilo 12 19 19 – 0