Rainbow Wahine season ended at NCAA regional finals

Rainbow Wahine season ended at NCAA regional finals

The No. 7 University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team saw its season come to an end in a four-set loss to second-seeded Minnesota in the Des Moines Regional final, Saturday, at Wells Fargo Arena. The Rainbow Wahine fell one win short of reaching their 10th NCAA Championship following a 25-18, 25-13, 24-26, 25-21 loss.

In defeat, UH (29-2) saw its 24-match win streak snapped and also suffered its first loss to the Golden Gophers in eight all-time meetings. The Golden Gophers (30-4) advances to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2009.

UH outside hitter Nikki Taylor  finished with a team-high 23 kills to pace the Rainbow Wahine, who hit .210 as a team compared to .403 for Minnesota. Tai Manu-Olevao and Emily Maglio  each had nine kills. Savanah Kahakai posted a match-high 21 digs. Taylor and Manu-Olevao were each selected to the all-regional team.

Daly Santana led the Gophers with a match-high 26 kills and hit .438 with 12 digs and three blocks. Middle blocker Hannah Tapp added 15 kills, hitting .600 and five blocks. The Gophers out-blocked the nation's top blocking team in the Rainbow Wahine, 12-to-4, and committed only seven hitting errors in 139 kill attempts.

Hawai'i's season came to an end but not before it put together one of its best resumes in school history. UH made its 34th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance; advanced to its 28th NCAA Regional; and won its 24thconference title, including 15th time in undefeated fashion.

In Set 1, the Rainbow Wahine dug themselves in an early hole as the Gophers surged to a 14-8 advantage after hitting into five blocks. UH pulled to within 18-15 but four straight Minnesota points stretched the deficit to 22-15. UH hit .108 in the set while the Gophers hit .464 and had six blocks.

Minnesota used a pair of 4-0 runs to jump out to leads of 5-1 and 11-3 in Set 2. The Gophers continued to use its size to frustrate the Rainbow Wahine as they spoiled UH's unbeaten run in Set 2's this season. Hawai'i was 29-0 in Set 2 before falling 25-13 and suffering its worst set loss since 2013.

The Rainbow Wahine would not quit in Set 3. UH led 8-6 after a 6-2 run which included the team's first ace by Tayler Higgins. The teams traded points until Manu-Olevao went back-to-back kills to give UH a 20-18 lead. The Gophers rallied and the teams again went back-and-forth until Taylor took over scoring UH's final three points for a 26-24 victory.

UH stormed out of the gates in Set 4, taking a 5-1 lead. The Rainbow Wahine held the advantage until the Gophers tied it at 11. UH bunched together three straight points including a call reversal on a Taylor kill attempt for a 16-13 lead. With the 'Bows leading 20-18, the Gophers scored four straight - including two kills by Santana and two hitting errors by Taylor - for a 23-20 lead. The teams traded points and Manu-Olevao hit long on match point.