Hawaii serves its way to 11th straight win over Long Beach State

Nov. 5—An efficient and proficient serving performance powered the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team's 11th straight win over the Beach in a Big West sweep on Friday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawaii dictated points from the service line to maintain command of its series with Long Beach State.

An efficient and proficient serving performance powered the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team's 11th straight win over the Beach in a Big West sweep on Friday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

UH fired seven aces while committing just two service errors and pressured the Beach throughout the night in the 26-24, 25-18, 25-18 win before a crowd of 5, 203.

UH served inbounds at just over 97 % while forcing LBSU out of system in snapping the Beach's nine-match winning streak.

"We try to come out every time being aggressive from the service line, " UH coach Robyn Ah Mow said. "Going to the third (set ), I told them, 'great serving, we have to keep the pressure on them.' I think that was probably one of the best games they've served for the season."

The Rainbow Wahine (15-6, 12-1 Big West ) maintained a one-game lead over UC Santa Barbara in the Big West race and conclude their penultimate homestand of the season today against Cal State Fullerton (12-9, 6-7 ).

The Rainbow Wahine pin hitters led a balanced attack directed by setter Kate Lang, who posted her seventh double-double with 29 assists and 11 digs.

Caylen Alexander led UH with 11 kills, Riley Wagoner finished with nine and opposite Braelyn Akana put away her eighth on match point.

Braelyn Akana hammers her eighth kill and sweeps Long Beach State 26-24, 25-18, 25-18. (15-6, 12-1 BWC ) ends the match on a 7-1 run. Rainbow Wahine win their 11th straight vs. LBSU.—Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro )

"They're a really good blocking team, so just trying to keep it as evenly distributed as possible was my goal, " said Lang, who foiled the block with four kills of her own. "I felt like my outsides were really on fire tonight and Braelyn stepping up, she was amazing."

Middle blocker Amber Igiede, coming off a career-high 24 kills on Oct. 29 at UC Davis, finished with seven to end her run of 18 consecutive double-digit-kill performances.

Hitting primarily from the right side, Akana put away 19 kills in 29 attacks during UH's road trip last week and got off to a hot start on Friday in scoring on her first seven swings against LBSU.

"We've been talking as coaches that we have to get some production from the right side, " Ah Mow said. "Brae was doing a great job within the last couple of weeks at practice. We need that right side.

"If the middles are taking the blockers and they're just leaving the right side one-on-one, it's good for us. Then if we start building that right side, like Brae did today, then teams are going to have to release and pick and choose whether they want to stay with our middles ... or go to our outsides."

Long Beach State (15-7, 10-4 ) hadn't lost since UH's four-set win at the Walter Pyramid on Oct. 1 and was led by outside hitter Morgan Chacon's 13 kills on 43 attacks. Middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach had five of her eight blocks, including four solo, in the first set.

The Beach served aggressively as well in landing four aces, all in the first set. But the risk-reward approach was countered by 11 service errors.

"When you lose like that ... it's really easy to start looking at 13 different reasons, " first-year Long Beach State coach Tyler Hildebrand said. "At the end of the day we got outserved, by a lot. They served much better than us and they passed much better than us.

"I think we were in the match because we blocked so well, we played defense hard, we made a lot of creative plays. We got beat in those two areas (serve and pass ), and when that happens it's going to be tough to win."

Long Beach State's 15-12 lead at the media timeout was the widest margin of a first set that included 18 ties and eight lead changes.

Chacon's sixth kill gave Beach set point at 24-23 and UH middle Tiffany Westerberg scored off the block to force deuce. Alexander then fired an ace into the middle of the Beach formation. Lang's fourth dig of the set and a bump set from Tayli Ikenaga led to a Wagoner cross-court kill to give UH the set.

"It's definitely really nice to get the first set under your belt, " said Wagoner, who posted the 100th block of her career in the win. "You feel a little bit more comfortable in that position and just rolled that momentum that you get from winning the first one."

Igiede, held to one kill with one error in the first set, had three kills and was in on two blocks as UH opened up a 10-4 lead in the second set. LBSU made a late charge, but UH closed the set with a 3-0 run, ending with a kill from Akana.

Long Beach rallied to within 18-17 in the third set, but UH closed the match with a 7-1 run sparked by an ace from Lang and capped by Akana's final kill.