Heartbreak In Hawai'i As Pacific Falls In Five To The No. 9 Rainbow Wahine

Pacific Volleyball: Photo by: Becca Wyant
Pacific Volleyball: Photo by: Becca Wyant

Honolulu, Hawaii - For the third-straight match, the Pacific women's volleyball team suffered a five-set loss as the Tigers fell, 3-2, to No. 9 Hawai'i on Saturday, October 20. The loss dropped the Tigers to 16-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big West through the first half while the Rainbow Wahine improved to 17-2 on the year and 10-0 in conference action.

Set scores for the match were: 14-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 15-11.

In what began with high hopes of a big upset quickly turned into heartbreak as the Tigers saw the Rainbow Wahine erase a two set deficit to take the five-set victory. For Pacific, the match was played out in two completely different worlds as the Tigers could do no wrong in the first half of the night while Hawai'i could do no wrong in the second half.

Opening their night, the Tigers jumped all over Hawai'i in the first set of action as Pacific blasted the Rainbow Wahine on offense while setting up an impenetrable wall on defense. Throughout the frame, the Tigers had their way with Hawai'i as Pacific hit .483 while posting 5.0 total blocks. The dominating effort at the net enabled the Tigers to run away with the set late as Pacific turned a 15-13 contest into a seven-point, 20-13, lead that put the Rainbow Wahine away. Leading the way for the Tigers was their all-conference middle, Jennifer Sanders, who posted six kills on seven swings while posting three blocks.

A set later, the Tigers again controlled the net as they looked both inside and out to take apart Hawai'i. After Sanders opened up the court with her attack in set one, freshman Kat Schulz took advantage of the free flowing offense to net five kills on nine attacks to pace the Tigers. Additionally, the Tigers again stymied the Rainbow Wahine's attack with five more blocks as Sanders posted two more while sophomore middle Gillian Howard tallied three.

Up two and looking for the sweep, the Tigers saw the first signs of the tide turning come during the break as the 10 minute respite allowed the Rainbow Wahine to regroup while halting the momentum Pacific had built up. With adjustments made and a new set beginning, the Tigers found a mirror image of the opening two sets staring back at them. The Rainbow Wahine controlled everything the Tigers had controlled through the first two sets of the night and quickly took complete control of the match.

In set three, Hawai'i built an early seven point lead that would be the building block of their comeback as the Rainbow Wahine turned the blocking game completely around with five blocks of their own to the Tigers' one. One set later, it was a pair of big runs, including a 9-0 run early that turned the tables in the set as the Rainbow Wahine continued their control of the net with four more blocks and an attack led by Emily Hartong. In the middle two sets, Hartong tallied 10 kills on 19 swings after posting six kills through the first two sets.

With the match heading to a final set five, the Tigers still had the belief that an upset was possible. Throwing everything they had at the Rainbow Wahine, the Tigers found their offense once again as Pacific hit .444 in the frame, led by Shulz's four kills on six attacks. However, even with the Tigers finding their rhythm the Rainbow Wahine was not fazed as Hawai'i finished the final set without an error to hit .550.  Once again, Hartong was at her best as she posted four kills on five swings while Jade Vorster went 4-for-4, including dumping down the match-winner on an overpass by Pacific.

Overall, the Tigers were led by Schulz who finished her night with 15 kills on .316 hitting. The freshman added 11 digs and two blocks to post her fifth-consecutive and team-best 13th overall double-double. Right behind Schulz, Sanders finished the match with 14 kills on .423 hitting while tallying five of Pacific's 13 blocks. Freshman Anne-Sophie Bauer rounded out the Tigers' attack with 11 kills on 35 as Pacific finished the night hitting .217. Defensively, Howard led the Tigers' at the net with six blocks while freshman Kimmy Whitson added five including tallying a pair of solo efforts. Along the backline, senior Koala Matsuoka, playing at home in front of family and friends, was stellar with 23 digs.

For the Rainbow Wahine, Hartong led all attackers in the match with 20 kills on 48 attacks while also posting nine digs and five blocks. Vorster finished her night with 13 kills on .650 hitting and eight blocks while Ashley Kastl tallied a double-double with 11 kills and 15 digs. As a team, Hawai'i hit .260 for the match while also posting 14.0 total blocks.

The Tigers continued their two-week road trip on Friday, October 26 when they travel to UC Riverside to take on the Highlanders. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm.