The University of Hawaii men's volleyball team faltered in the final two sets of a 3-1 loss to nemesis UCLA, Saturday night in the championship match of the 20th Outrigger Volleyball Invitational at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 25-19, 14-25, 25-19, 25-16.
UCLA captured its fourth consecutive Outrigger title and record ninth overall. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Robart Page had a match-high 16 kills for the Bruins (3-1), who went undefeated in the tourney for the eighth time. UCLA avenged last year's epic Outrigger finale, in which the Rainbow Warriors rallied to win in five sets, snapping a 10-match tournament losing streak to the Bruins.
On Saturday, the teams split the first two sets, each winning in decisive fashion. UCLA scored the final points to win the pivotal Set 3, 25-19 and played nearly flawless in Set 4, hitting .483 with no hitting errors in a 25-16 rout.
Hawaii was led by outside hitters Sinisa Zarkovic and Jace Olsen, who each tallied 13 kills. Zarkovic, an all-tourney selection, finished the Outrigger with a team-best 44 kills but hit at a season-low .207 clip. Middle blocker Nick West had nine kills and three blocks and was also named to the all-tournament team.
UCLA outside hitter Gonzalo Quiroga (10 kills, seven digs) and setter Steve O'Dell (37 assists, two aces) were also all-tourney picks along with Penn State's Nick Goodell and Ohio State's Driss Guessous.
Freshman Hendrik Mol sparked the Warriors in Set 2 with five kills in nine swings and UH posted 6.5 team blocks to even the match.
But in Set 3, O'Dell's two aces turned the momentum in UCLA's favor as the Bruins went ahead 20-17. He directed UCLA to a .438 hitting percentage in the final two sets.
With both teams defeating No. 12 Ohio State and No. 11 Penn State in the tournament's first two days, it set up Saturday's championship match. UH was going for its seventh title and first since 2010.
In the first match of the day, Penn State (1-2) defeated Ohio State in the battle of winless teams, 28-26, 25-20, 25-19. Nick Goodell had a match-high 13 kills along with seven digs and two aces. Shawn Herron tallied eight kills for the Buckeyes (0-3), who lost all nine sets in the tournament.
The Warriors will next host Long Beach State in a two-match Mountain Pacific Sports Federation series, Thursday, Jan. 16 and Friday, Jan. 17 at the Stan Sheriff Center. First serve for both matches is 7:00 p.m.
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