Rainbow Wahine stun Penn State, advance to NCAA quarterfinals
Des Moines, IA -
The No. 7 University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team took down the two-time defending champions Penn State in straight sets, Friday, to advance to the regional final for the first time since 2009. The Rainbow Wahine swept the Nittany Lions, 25-22, 27-25, 25-16 in the NCAA Des Moines Regionals at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Rainbow Wahine (27-1) will next face second-seeded Minnesota in Saturday's regional final with a trip to the NCAA Championships on the line. The match will start at 5:30 p.m. CT (1:30 p.m. HT) and will be televised on ESPNU.
UH extended its nation's-best win streak to 24 matches and defeated Penn State for the first time in six chances. Penn State, which has won six national titles in the last eight years, ends its season at 28-6. The match featured the nation's top two winningest coaches in UH's Dave Shoji (1,179) and PSU's Russ Rose (1,189).
Nikki Taylor led the Rainbow Wahine with a match-high 18 kills along with eight digs. Tai Manu-Olevao added 14 kills, with just one error, hitting a remarkable .500. Middle blocker Olivia Magill did not commit an error in 19 attempts with nine kills hitting .474. Kalei Greeley added eight kills and two aces.
Aiyana Whitney led Penn State with 10 kills while Haleigh Washington and Megan Courtney each chipped in with nine kills.
As a team, UH hit .389 for the match while limiting the Nittany Lions to .228. UH also recorded five aces and five team blocks.
Down 11-8 early in Set 1, the Rainbow Wahine strung together four straight points – spurred by a kill and ace by Manu-Olevao – to reclaim the lead at 12-11. The 'Bows would not trail thereafter, pushing their lead to 20-16 after a PSU hitting error. The Nittany Lions saved two set points to pull within 24-22 but Manu-Olevao closed out the set with her third kill. UH was led by Taylor's five kills in the set.
UH doubled up the Nittany Lions early in Set 2, 8-4, after posting its first two blocks of the match. PSU tied it at 13 but the 'Bows regained the lead with back-to-back kills by Taylor. UH's first hitting error of Set 2 – by Taylor – tied the score at 19. The teams traded points with the 'Bows erasing two sets points. Magill gave UH set point at 26-25 and Manu-Olevao again closed out the set giving the 'Bows a two-set advantage.
Hawai'i jumped all over Penn State in Set 3, using a 5-0 run take the early lead. Moments later, the Rainbow Wahine bunched together five more points – including two aces by Greeley – for a 12-4 lead. UH would not let the Nittany Lions get any closer than six points the rest the way and the 'Bows ended the match after Whitney's kill attempt sailed wide.