’Bows pull away to beat Bears in NCAA first round

UH to face San Diego today in rematch of early season meeting

The Maui News

Maybe it was a little rust, maybe some nerves.

Regardless, the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team overcame some early struggles to overwhelm Northern Colorado on Friday night, earning a four-set victory in the NCAA Tournament first-round match at a packed Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.

McKenna Ross had 14 kills to lead the 12th-seeded Rainbow Wahine, who won 26-24, 24-26, 25-8, 25-15 to advance to a second-round match against San Diego today.

UH (25-3) hadn’t played since sweeping Long Beach State to clinch the Big West Conference title on Nov. 22, and the Rainbow Wahine had a hard time early on against the Bears, champions of the Big Sky Conference.

The first set was tight throughout, though Northern Colorado (26-8) was able to go ahead 22-19 on an error by Brooke Van Sickle. UH battled back to tie it at 22 and was able rally with help from its block, including a thunderous roof by Amber Igiede and Hanna Hellvig to end the set.

Much like the first, the second set was a close, back-and-forth affair. Hawaii led 23-21, but three straight points gave the Bears match point, and they eventually tied up the match at one set apiece with a kill by Lauren Hinrichs.

From there, it was all Rainbow Wahine as they got their serving and blocking going. UH tallied five blocks and four aces in running away with the third set, and the ‘Bows methodically pulled away in the fourth to set up a rematch with San Diego — the Toreros and ‘Bows met in their first match of the season, with UH rallying for a five-set win at the Stanley.

San Diego (25-5) advanced to today’s match by beating Washington State (23-10) in four sets earlier Friday.

Norene Iosia tallied 25 assists, three kills, four aces, 13 digs and six blocks for the Rainbow Wahine. Van Sickle, Igiede and Skylar Williams each added nine kills — Williams also had six blocks, while Igiede had five. Rika Okina had 16 digs and Van Sickle chipped in 15 to lead UH.

In her first match since going down with an ankle injury on Sept. 12, Jolie Rasmussen contributed four kills and a dig for Hawaii.

Taylor Muff led the Bears with 19 kills. Kailey Jo Ince added 14.