The No. 18 University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team opened the 2015 season with a sweep over Idaho to open the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, 25-18, 25-23, 25-19. Nikki Taylor led UH with 12 kills in 18 attacks with three errors for a career-high .500 hitting percentage. Olivia Magill and Tai Manu-Olevao both added eight kills apiece in front of an opening-night crowd of 6,845 in the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday.
The 'Bows got off to a hot start scoring the first six points of the match—the last five all on Tayler Higgins' serve. But Idaho kept fighting back, scoring four straight points of their own to knot the score at 9-9. But that was as close as the Vandals would get as UH started to pull away, going on a five-point run on four-straight serves by libero Savanah Kahakai that gave UH a 21-13 lead. UH won the first set, 25-18. Junior opposite Nikki Taylor led UH putting down six kills with no errors in six attempts for a 1.000 hitting percentage.
In the second set, it was the Vandals who took control early and held the lead for much of the second half of the set. Idaho looked to capture the set with a 23-19 lead, but the 'Bows rallied to score the last six straight points to steal the set with Taylor serving taking set two, 25-23. Setter Kendra Koelsch came off the bench to play in the front row with the UH trailing 23-21. She came through in the clutch with two key dump shot kills—including the set winner—to stun Idaho and take a 2-0 set lead.
The third set saw UH get off to a good start, taking an early 8-2 lead, however the Vandals battled back to take the lead at 11-10 and went up by as much as three points twice before the Rainbow Wahine charged their way past Idaho. The 'Bows caught the Vandals at 18-18 and then hit overdrive to win the last seven straight points for the win, 25-19. Magill and Manu-Olevao combined to end the match on a block. Defensive specialist Clare Anderson came in and stymied the Vandals, serving for the last six points
Freshman McKenna Granato made her first appearance as a Rainbow Wahine serving and playing in the back row late in the second set and finished the match with three digs. Junior college transfer Annie Mitchem also got her first action donning the green and white for the first time finishing the night with one kill and two blocks.
Hawai'i out-blocked Idaho, 10-to-5 with Manu-Olevao tallying one solo and three block assists. Magill and Taylor both were in on four blocks each. The 'Bows' jump serves also made a difference by keeping the Vandals off-balance and putting pressure on their defense.
The tournament continues on Saturday, Aug. 29 with Oregon State facing Idaho at 4:30 pm and Hawai'i taking on Wichita State at 7:00 p.m. Earlier on Friday night, Wichita State edged out the Beavers in a tight match, 25-23, 26-24, 25-19.
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