The No. 6 University of Hawai'i beach volleyball team made it a Senior Day to remember with a pair of wins, including an emphatic 4-1 upset of No. 2 Pepperdine Saturday at the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex.
The Rainbow Wahine, who also defeated Cal Poly on Saturday, improved to 21-5 on the season, a new single-season record for wins. UH's four seniors – Tayler Higgins, Nikki Taylor, Mikayla Tucker, and Sydney Shinn – were honored following the win over Pepperdine as part of Senior Day festivities.
After falling to the Waves (18-2) by a 3-2 score twice in the last 10 days, the SandBows finally broke though with an inspired performance. It marked just the second time in 11 all-time meetings that UH beat the Waves with the first being a home upset in 2015 when the Waves were ranked No. 1.
"We we're just ready to play," head coach Jeff Hall said. "It was our time. And we were resilient. I think (in our previous matchups) when we were down a few points, we started to melt and we didn't this time. "
UH got off to a great start against the Waves as the No. 5 flight of Amy Ozee and Hannah Zalopany set the tone for the match. Ozee's big block on match point gave the pair a 21-17, 21-18 straight set win.
"I got to give a lot of credit to the fives," Hall noted. "Zap and Ozee started this roll and gave us a lot of momentum."
Carly Kan and Ari Homayun followed up with another straight set win at the No. 4 flight, defeating Anika Wilson and Deahna Kraft, 21-17, 21-17. UH then clinched the match when Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver outlasted Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer on an incredible rally during match point to claim a 21-18, 23-21 at the No. 3 flight.
In the night cap, Taylor enjoyed a Senior Day win pairing up with Ka'iwi Schuct for a 21-17, 21-16 win over Brittany Howard and Corrine Quiggle at the No. 2 flight. Pepperdine salvaged their only point when Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh rallied past Tucker and Morgan Martin (UH) 19-21, 21-18, 15-10. UH still won eight of the 11 sets played in the dual match with the four wins coming in straight sets.
"We were firing on all cylinders," Hall said. "We've had different combinations of flights play well, but tonight was a night where all of our flights played well. It was a special moment and I think our girls feed off the home crowd and wanted to perform."
In the first match of the day, UH dropped Cal Poly, 4-1, the third time in eight days the SandBows beat the Mustangs (10-16) by that score. UH picked up all four of its points by straight sets, including a dominating 21-11, 21-8 by Homayun and Kan at the No. 4 flight. For the third straight meeting, Cal Poly took its lone point at the top of the order.
The SandBows will be back in action when they host Saint Mary's next weekend in the First Foundation Bank Easter Classic. UH and SMC will face off at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 14 at the Ching Complex and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 15 at Queen's Beach.
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