The Rainbow Wahine volleyball team fought hard to come back from two sets down against Illinois Friday evening in the Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle, Wash., but the Illini held of the Wahine in the fifth set, winning 3-2 (25-18, 25-17, 13-25, 26-24, 15-10) in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
The ‘Bows (20-8, 14-2 BWC) struggled early as the length of Illinois (22-10, 12-8 Big Ten) kept the Wahine from converting at the net. Hawaii didn’t hit the 20-point in either of the first two sets of the match as Illinois looked to be en route to an easy three-set sweep.
But like many games this season, the Wahine showed their true grit when they had their backs against the wall. The Wahine stormed back in the third, holding Illinois to an impressive 13 points after they scored 50 in the first two sets combined.
The fourth was more competitive, but the Wahine held their own and took care of business to force a fifth and final set for the match, 26-24.
After a back-and-forth start to the final frame, it didn’t take the Illini long to understand what was at stake and they began to show off the length and athleticism that held Hawaii off in the first and second sets.
The Wahine were led by Emily Maglio’s 18 kills and McKenna Granato, who recorded a double-double with 15 kills and 21 digs. Jacqueline Quade led the way for the Illini with 15 kills.
With the loss, the road ends here for the Wahine after a strong start to the Robyn Ah Mow-Santos era in Manoa. As for Illinois, they will await the winner of Washington vs. LIU Brooklyn in the second round.
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