The No. 8 University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team captured the Big West Conference title outright with a three-set sweep at UC Irvine, 26-24, 25-21, 25-14. For the Rainbow Wahine, it is their eighth Big West crown and their 24th overall conference title. It also marked their third Big West title in the last four seasons since rejoining the league in 2012 and their 20th title in the last 21 seasons. Hawai'i improved to 24-1 overall and 14-0 in conference by winning its 19th-straight match of the year. The Anteaters fell to 12-14 overall and 6-8 in league action.
Junior opposite and reigning Big West Player of the Week Nikki Taylor led all players with 20 kills. It was her second-straight match and the third time in the last four matches with at least 20 kills. It marked the seventh time this season and the ninth time in her career that she's hit the 20-kill mark. Taylor also had two aces and four blocks to fill her stat sheet.
Senior middle hitter Olivia Magill hit an even .500 with 10 kills on 18 attacks and just one error. She recorded two blocks in the match. Fellow middle hitter, sophomore Emily Maglio had another solid match, posting eight kills and a team-high five blocks. Junior setter Tayler Higgins dished out 45 assists and was one dig shy of notching a double-double with nine. She also had two service aces. Kalei Greeley tallied a season-high 14 digs while chipping in with five kills and a service ace.
In the first set, Hawai'i and UC Irvine were locked in a battle with neither team could get more than a two point lead as the set saw 10 ties and five lead changes. The Anteaters took their biggest lead at 15-12. After a UH timeout, the 'Bows eventually were able to knot the score at 17-17, but UCI would pull ahead again by two points on kills by Lena Latour and Victoria Dennis. UH called their second timeout out of which after a couple of plays,Tayler Higgins served four balls as UH went on a four point run to take the lead at 22-21. UH actually had two set points erased before getting a kill by Maglio and then a double block by Kendra Koelsch and Maglio to edge out UCI in the first set, 26-24. Taylor led UH with six kills in the set followed by Maglio with four kills on five swings. Taylor led the 'Bows with three blocks and Maglio had two.
Hawai'i got off to a good start in the second set, jumping out to a 6-2 lead helped by a five-point run with Savanah Kahakai serving for four straight points. But the scrappy Anteaters fought right back to eventually tie the score at 14-14 and then again at 17-17. UH however would pull away for the 25-21 win to take set two and a 2-0 lead into the break. Taylor had pounded eight kills alone in Set 2 to help lift UH to the second set win.
The Rainbow Wahine got points in bunches in the third set to coast to a 25-14 win to complete the sweep and capture their third Big West title in four years.
The Anteaters were led by Harlee Kekauoha who had 11 kills. Libero Luna Tsujimoto had a match-high 15 digs and Ella Rosenfeld had a team-high three blocks.
UH's 19-match win-streak is the longest since Hawai'i won 26-straight in the 2011 season.
Hawai'i continues its roadtrip with a match at Cal Poly on Thursday, November 19 at 7:00 pm in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
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