SandBows win inaugural Big West conference championship - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

SandBows win inaugural Big West conference championship

Courtesy: Hawaii Athletics Courtesy: Hawaii Athletics
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -

The No. 5 University of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine laid claim to the inaugural Big West Beach Volleyball Championship trophy on Saturday at the Beach Boulevard Courts, defeating Long Beach State twice by a score of 3-2 in the final rounds.

In both matches, the ‘SandBows’ earned victories in No. 1,2 and 4 positions and were narrowly defeated at 3 and 5.

The SandBows finished an undefeated 3-0 weekend on the way to the tournament victory, including the two tightly-contested wins vs. the seventh-ranked 49ers following Friday’s sweep of Cal Poly.

"This a great moment for the program and the University to win the first-ever Big West title,” Head Coach Jeff Hall commented. “We are excited about hanging this banner and look forward to playing our best volleyball of the season at Gulf Shores next weekend."

Long Beach State battled hard throughout the day and gave Hawai'i all they could handle. No. 2 pair Nikki Taylor and partner Ka'iwi Schucht continued their winning ways in two consecutive straight-set sweeps versus LBSU’s Jenelle Hudson and Zoi Konstantopoulou. Taylor's powerful serves and straight-down spikes complimented the savvy defensive play and sets to dominate the day.

Also impressive were Ginger Long and Mikayla Tucker who also swept both matches on the day at No. 4 over Ciana Wagner and Mykah Wilson. Long was sleek and strong in her role at the net and brought amazing hustle throughout the day. Tucker mixed well-placed shots with hard hits and stellar defense to assure the victories.

Court 1 saw some of the tightest sets of the day where No. 1 pair Katie Spieler and Emily Maglio won early in straight sets and then battled hard to hold off an early one-set deficit in the final. The pair rebounded with a strong showing in the second set and a triumphant run in the third set to claim the set, match, dual and Big West Championship for Hawai'i, 14-21, 21-11, 15-11.

"I'm so proud of our whole team and coaching staff,” senior captain Spieler said. “We are all flowing and right where we want to be at this point in the season, and it's a result of us grinding through rough spots to come out stronger and better. The opportunity to be in a third set playing to clinch the match is all you can ask for as a teammate. We were set up by our other teammates to be able to close the win and it's those tight matches that you play for day in and day out."

"The girls deserve it. They trained hard all year and proved they were the best team on the beach. This is a good step on the road to our ultimate goal, to bring a National Championship back to Hawai'i,” long-time volunteer assistant and reigning University of Hawai'i Coach of the Year Danny Alvarez added.

Next up for Hawai'i is Selection Sunday, slated to be webcast at 2:00 p.m. HT on NCAA.com. The Rainbow Wahine are vying for a spot among the elite tournament field, which will feature the top eight national teams in a three-day double-elimination tournament, scheduled for May 6-8 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

University of Hawaii Media Release

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