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UH claims national title with sweep of BYU

The Maui News

No. 1-ranked University of Hawaii swept No. 2 BYU to win the NCAA men’s volleyball title today, winning the match 25-21, 25-19, 25-16 at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Rado Parapunov, the AVCA National Player of the Year, led UH with 13 kills and hit .357. Parapunov added seven digs, three aces and two blocks as he was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament.

“I wouldn’t say it was a dominant performance,” Parapunov said in a post-match television interview. “I would say (that) team is at an extremely high level and the volleyball that is always on the court is just unmatchable.

“We studied them very well, we changed everything over the season so we can compete. We know that they analyzed us, we analyzed them. We just gave them the respect — I think that’s why, the biggest reason we ended up winners because we respected that team.”

It is the second time the Rainbow Warriors have won the NCAA championship match, although the crown they won in 2002 was later vacated due to use of an ineligible player.

Hawaii was making its fourth appearance in the title match — the others came in 1996, 2002 and 2019.

It was the first time BYU and UH met in the NCAA Tournament — the Cougars still lead the all-time series 42-23.

The two teams last met in their final two matches of 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season — BYU swept the first and won the first two sets of the second before Hawaii rallied to win 19-17 in the fifth set.

That thriller at the Stan Sheriff Center was the final NCAA match of the 2020 season.

Colton Cowell, a King Kekaulike High School graduate who missed the final match in 2020 due to injury, slammed home the final point of the second set on Saturday, one of his seven kills in the match.

While he hit just .087, Cowell also had three service aces, three digs, two blocks and an assist.

Patrick Gasman had seven kills and hit .545 for UH. Chaz Galloway and Guilherme Voss each hit .667 and had six kills for Hawaii, which outhit BYU .381 to .262 as a team. Hawaii also had 10 aces to two for BYU.

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