From the moment the final point hit the floor at the Stan Sheriff Center last Saturday, the Rainbow Warriors were already focused on BYU. Jennings Franciskovic said after the three-set win over Pepperdine that they wanted a crack at the Cougars on a neutral court. Patrick Gasman said he wanted to destroy them. That's what BYU had done to the 'Bows earlier this season, as well as over the course of program history. This UH team seems set on rewriting history this season.
The Rainbow Warriors swept the Cougars in three sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-22) Thursday at the MPSF semifinals in Long Beach. It will be the fourth appearance in the MPSF championship match for a UH program still searching for a league title in their final year of a 25-year MPSF tenure.
"We were very confident late in those sets," said head coach Charlie Wade. "We've been in that situation a lot and relished being able to make the plays down the stretch and had a lot of guys step up tonight."
The Rainbow Warriors hit .429 as a team with Kupono Fey leading the way with a season-high 16 kills, while Stijn van Tilburg was also in double figures with 12.
"Kupono was fabulous," said Wade. "All three of our seniors are playing at a really high level late in the season. That's what you want, senior leadership to step up and lead the team to victory."
It was the first time BYU had been swept in the MPSF tournament since 2000. A year later was the first, and only time prior to Thursday, that UH had beaten the Cougars in the postseason.
"While everybody's really excited about getting the win, it's just one more step to getting us closer to a national championship," said Wade.
UH will play Long Beach State in Saturday's MPSF championship match after the 49ers defeated UC Irvine in three sets in the other semifinal. The Rainbow Warriors dropped both matches at LBSU earlier this season.
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