Nov. 6—Right from the start and through to the finish, Hawaii's middles played a central role in Saturday's sweep of Cal State Fullerton.
Right from the start and through to the finish, Hawaii's middles played a central role in Saturday's sweep of Cal State Fullerton.
UH middle blocker Amber Igiede put away the first kill of the night and her match-high 15th closed out a 25-18, 25-18, 25-18 victory before a Saturday night crowd of 4, 701 at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Along the way, Igiede and fellow middle Tiffany Westerberg hit.538 with a combined 23 kills on 39 attempts a night after accounting for eight kills in 23 attacks in UH's sweep of Long Beach State on Friday.
"We try to emphasize that every game, " UH coach Robyn Ah Mow said. "Our middles are giving our wings different options."
Igiede had six kills on 11 swings in the first set and was in on four blocks, including three solo. Westerberg finished with eight kills on 13 error-free swings and contributed three blocks to help UH (16-6, 13-1 Big West ) remain alone atop the conference standings.
UH setter Kate Lang distributed 37 assists for an attack that hit.353. The sophomore got both middles involved early in the match, with the duo accounting for seven of UH's first eight kills.
"We always have that connection with Kate, " Westerberg said. "Sometimes the middle isn't the go-to, sometimes it's to create space for the pins. So I think it works either way for us."
When Lang went to the pins, UH outside hitter Riley Wagoner posted 10 kills on.320 hitting from the left side and posted double-digit digs for the fifth straight match with 11 against the Titans.
Opposite Braelyn Akana added six kills while hitting primarily from the right side, although the Kamehameha graduate had a couple of chances to score in the middle as well.
Freshman outside hitter Caylen Alexander fired three of UH's four aces to go along with five kills and UH improved to 47-0 in the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton.
Westerberg was credited with just one kill in the win over Long Beach State on Friday, but it may have been the pivotal point of the match. With the Beach a point away from taking the first set, Westerberg's kill off the edge of the block forced deuce at 24-24. The Wahine went on to take the set 26-24 then rolled through the next two, also by 25-18 scores, to sweep the Beach.
On Saturday, she helped the Wahine shake off a ragged start after Cal State Fullerton jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the first set.
After Ah Mow used her first timeout, Westerberg scored in the middle to trigger an 8-0 UH run that included three kills and two blocks from Igiede.
"We talked in the huddle that we had to clean up some stuff, " Akana said. "There was some stuff that we were just kind of sloppy and we wanted to clean up the little mistakes we were making."
UH outscored Fullerton 17-6 after the timeout and Alexander closed the set with an ace.
UH led throughout the second set and Westerberg had three kills in a 5-1 UH run that pushed the Wahine ahead 14-8. Fullerton got no closer than three the rest of the way and Wagoner's fourth kill of the set gave UH a 2-0 lead in the match.
Cal State Fullerton stayed in striking distance in the third set until Kendra Ham went on a five-point service run capped by an ace. Igiede gave UH match point with a kill on an overpass and finished off the win by ending a rally extended by Wagoner's dig in the back row.
Akana was one of three Kamehameha graduates on the court on Saturday, joined by Cal State Fullerton outside hitter Malie McClure and libero Nadia Koanui. Koanui popped up a match-high 13 digs and McClure finished with three kills and nine digs. Lolo Fonua led the Titans' attack with 11 kills off the bench. Lyla Traylor had 10 kills and Fullerton hit.121 with 21 attack errors.
UH remained a game ahead of second-place UC Santa Barbara (16-8, 12-2 ) entering a road trip to UC San Diego (12-14, 5-9 ) on Friday and UC Irvine (15-9, 8-6 ) on Saturday.
UCSB swept Cal Poly earlier Saturday to create a two-match gap between second and third place in the Big West race. Cal Poly and Long Beach State are tied for third at 10-4.