Emily Hartong had a match-high 25 kills to go along with 11 digs and the No. 6 University of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine volleyball team closed its two-match road trip with a four-set win over UC Irvine on Saturday night at Crawford Court. Set scores were 25-16, 25-17, 22-25, 25-15.
Hartong also added five blocks for the 'Bows who improved to 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big West Conference. Nikki Taylor recorded 10 kills and Mita Uiato added 11 digs to equal match-high honors with Hartong.
Cassidy Pickrell, Aly Squires, and Arielle Manz all had 11 kills to pace the Anteaters who fell to 9-8 and 0-3 in conference.
The first set saw the two teams trade points early, but after Hartong's third kill and an assist on an Uiato smash, UH had an 11-6 lead, forcing UC Irvine to call a timeout. The short four-point burst proved to be all the separation UH needed. A pair of kills by Manz cut into the UH lead, but two Hartong kills pushed the advantage back up to four points at 20-16. That started a run of six straight points to close out the first set.
UH opened up an early lead in set two but UC Irvine fought back to even the score at 7-7. Kills by Taylor and Tai Manu-Olevao (8 kills, 9 digs) gave the 'Bows an 11-9 lead, and a string of Hartong kills spearheaded a 7-0 Rainbow run to put the set to bed.
Closing out the Anteaters would not be so easy. The 'Bows rallied from an early six-point deficit in set three but UCI kept its distance as a pair of Pickrell kills gave her team a 13-8 lead. Kristiana Tuaniga helped UH take a one-point lead with two kills and a block in a UH run, but down the stretch it was the Anteaters who grabbed the win.
Set three proved to be a hiccup in what was an otherwise dominant performance by the 'Bows. A Manu-Olevao kill gave the 'Bows an early four-point lead and UH rolled to top the Anteaters in four sets.
The 'Bows return home and will play UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly this Friday and Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Start time for both matches is set for 7:00 p.m.
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