Hawaii women's volleyball team rallies, then rolls past Cal State Bakersfield

·4 min read

Oct. 17—Hawaii took a bit to get up to speed in the first two sets of Saturday's Big West match with Cal State Bakersfield.

Once the Rainbow Wahine found their gear, they raced past the Roadrunners to sweep into sole possession of first place in the conference's women's volleyball standings.

Hawaii faced six-point deficits early in the first two sets but caught and passed CSUB both times. They also trailed 17-15 in the third before zooming away with a 10-1 run to close out a 25-18, 25-20, 25-18 win in UH's last home match before fans are allowed to return to SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

UH (11-5, 8-0 Big West ) held CSU Bakersfield (10-6, 3-5 ) to a.109 hitting percentage to complete a sweep of its homestand and extend its conference winning streak to 19.

With UC Santa Barbara's loss at UC Davis earlier on Saturday, UH claimed sole possession of first place in the Big West heading into Friday's meeting with the Gauchos (11-9, 7-1 ) at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara.

Not that results elsewhere in the conference were at the top of mind for the Wahine.

"I was focused on this game, " UH setter Kate Lang said.

UH coach Robyn Ah Mow concurred.

"We have to focus on what we're doing at hand and worry about whatever's going to come later, " Ah Mow said. "Santa Barbara's definitely a good team and we just have to be ready."

After UH fell behind 7-1 in the first set and 6-0 in the second on Saturday, Lang credited sharper passing for turning the momentum of the sets and the freshman ran a UH attack that hit.270 while finishing with a double-double with 33 assists and 13 digs.

The Wahine finished the match with a.447 performance with just one error in the third set.

"I think just our passers getting a hold off the ball and being able to breath and be able to set the balls I want to set and not feel forced to set a pin ball felt really good, " Lang said of the turnarounds. "And getting our middles involved, that's always a good way to get out of a rut."

UH middle blocker Amber Igiede tied for match-high honors with 10 kills in 15 errorless attempts, Skyler Williams hammered match point for her ninth kill, and both middles were in on four of UH's nine total blocks.

When Lang did go outside, Brooke Van Sickle put away 10 kills and Riley Wagoner added eight, with both putting away five kills each in the third set. Van Sickle also turned in a double-double with 13 digs.

With UH looking for a spark early on, Ah Mow summoned freshman Martyna Leoniak off the bench and she tied her season high with eight kills and contributed nine digs. A starter early in the season, Leoniak had been used primarily as a serving substitute over the past month. Her kill to cut CSUB's lead to 7-6 in the first set was her first in Big West play.

"Leo hasn't played in the front in a while, and it was just a different look, " Ah Mow said of the 6-foot-3 opposite from Poland.

Leoniak also had a five-point service run as part of an 11-1 UH surge that wiped out the early deficit and the Wahine closed the set on back-to-back kills by Igiede.

The second set started much like the first and the Wahine were able to catch the Roadrunners on a block by Igiede and Wagoner to tie the set at 15-15. The Wahine finished the set with a 6-1 run and took a 2-0 lead in the match when Leoniak's roll shot fell in the middle of the CSUB defense.

"Overall just getting more comfortable in the back with the serve-receive passing and just building that trust with each other, " UH libero Tayli Ikenaga said of the difference between the start and finish. "Knowing who's got the seam and knowing they had a tough serve, being comfortable and helping each other out turned that around."

CSUB took a 17-15 lead in the third set when a Van Sickle kill sent Lang back to the service line. Lang stayed there for the next eight points as UH broke away. Williams and Leoniak combined on a block to tie it and Leoniak's kill gave the Wahine the lead for good. Van Sickle added three more kills in the run and Lang went to Williams to end the match.

Milicia Vukobrat led the Roadrunners with nine kills and Brooke Boiseau added eight.

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