UC San Diego stuns No. 1-ranked Hawaii in Big West men's volleyball semifinals

Jason Kaneshiro, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
·4 min read

Apr. 24—Simply stunning.

UC San Diego arrived at SimpliFi Arena on Friday night having lost 17 consecutive matches against undefeated Hawaii, the No. 1 team in the country and the top seed in the Big West men's volleyball tournament.

None of that mattered after the Tritons, ranked 14th in the country and seeded fourth in the tournament, pushed the Rainbow Warriors to a fifth set then finished off a 22-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-23, 18-16 win in a momentous upset.

The loss snapped UH's 16-match winning streak—dating back to last season's abrupt end—and left the Warriors to await the NCAA tournament selection show on Sunday. The match also served as a somber farewell to SimpliFi Arena for six UH seniors.

UC San Diego, which earned the program's first postseason victory with a four-set win over Cal State Northridge on Thursday, suddenly will have a chance to play their way into the NCAA tournament in today's Big West final against No. 3 and set for 7 p.m.

UC San Diego's Kyle McCauley hammered 18 kills, Collin Shannon added 12 while hitting.346 and Ryan Ka finished with 14 kills, six coming in the fifth set.

"Tremendous victory tonight, the guys fought really hard, " UCSD coach Kevin Ring said. "We talked about our resilience. We're been in some tight games in the past where we haven't always pulled those out. The guys showed up tonight, it was just a great team effort."

UH middle blocker Patrick Gasman matched a career high with 17 kills in 27 attempts. Rado Parapunov extended his streak of double-digit kill performances to 22 with 16 kills against 13 errors while hitting.067. Colton Cowell added 14 kills and Chaz Galloway finished with 11.

UH served up a season-high 11 aces and hit.281 to UCSD's.241. But the Tritons took advantage of UH's misfires to win the second set and closed the fourth set with a 4-1 run to extend the match.

The Tritons fired 10 aces, four by McCauley, and kept UH off balance for much of the night.

"We knew we were gonna have to serve aggresisive to get these guys out of system, " McCauley said.

Ka powered the Tritons in the fifth set and the match ended with a block by back-up setter Andrew Boyle to trigger a wild UCSD celebration.

UH and UCSD traded runs throughout the opening set before the Warriors managed to pull away and finished the set with Gasman's seventh kill in 10 swings.

UCSD jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the second set with the bulk of Tritons' scoring coming off five UH service errors, three hitting errors and three UCSD aces and just one kill. UH closed to within a point on seven occasions and fought off two set points before McCauley's eighth kill of the night evened the match.

After the break, UH took control early in the third set and cruised to reclaim the lead in the match. UH hit.333 in the set to UCSD's.034.

Trailing 16-13 in the fourth set, UCSD went on a 7-2 surge to see-saw back into the lead and UH responded to take a 22-21 lead with Cowell on the service line. But UCSD ended the set on a 4-1 run with McCauley's fourth ace and two Ka kills extended the match.

The Tritons scored the first two points in the race to 15 and UH responded for the next four to force a UCSD timeout after a Cowell ace. The Tritons erased the deficit to catch UH at 9-9.

UCSD stuffed Cowell on back-to-back swings to take an 11-10 lead.

A Gasman kill tied the set again at 12-12 and a long rally ended with Shannon hitting long. The call was challenged and upheld to give UH a 13-12 lead. Gasman served long and Ka and Clark teamed up to block Parapunov to give the Tritons match point. After a UH timeout, Parapunov powered a kill through the block to knot the set at 14-14. A double contact on the Tritons at the net flipped the advantage to UH. Ka put down back-to-back kills, UH fought off another match point and Ka followed with his final kill and Boyle put down a UH free ball to end the match.