HONOLULU - Nikki Taylor and Sarah Mendoza both set new career-highs and the University of Hawaii women's volleyball team closed out the first round of Big West Conference play with a four-set win over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 25-16.
Taylor ripped a career-high 22 kills and Mendoza dug a career-best 25 attacks to lift the 'Bows to 14-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big West. Savanah Kahakai had a season-high 15 digs and Kalei Greeley added 10 kills and eight digs.
Ali Spindt equaled match-high honors with 25 digs for the Gauchos who fell to 9-10 overall and 4-4 in conference. Ali Barbeau added a team-high 16 kills.
The 'Bows grabbed the opening set but UCSB tied the match and appeared to seize the momentum heading to the break. The Rainbow Wahine had other ideas and returned from the locker room to grind out two more wins and take the match.
Set three saw the 'Bows turn a one-point deficit midway through into a dominant 25-15 win. A pair of kills each from Taylor and Adolpho lifted the 'Bows to a 17-13 lead and Taylor won five straight points off her serve during the turnaround.
UH got off to a hot start in set four. Olivia Magill (10 kills, 4 blks) had a block and a kill to help her team to an 8-3 lead. A Barbeau kill later closed the gap to two points at 16-14, but the 'Bows regained the momentum and cruised to the win.
Neither team led by more than a point in set one until Taylor came alive with back-to-back kills to give UH a 17-14 lead, the largest for either team to that point in the set. The run continued as the 'Bows opened up a five-point lead and held on for the first set win. A late 4-0 run by UCSB cut the lead to one point, but Taylor again ripped back-to-back kills to put the Gauchos away.
The 'Bows continue conference play this week when they travel to UC Irvine (Oct. 31) and Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 1)