Oct. 16—Robyn Ah Mow called it a "slow " week in practice for Hawaii leading into Friday's Big West volleyball showdown with Cal Poly.
Come game night, the Rainbow Wahine broke out to a fast start on their way to a sweep of the Mustangs at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Cal Poly entered the match among the conference's hottest teams with four consecutive sweeps. But UH held the Mustangs to a.130 hitting percentage and extended its Big West winning streak to 18 with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-22 victory.
"I'm just proud of them how they came out from the beginning (of the match ) and changed it up since the week of practice, " Ah Mow said.
"I'm a little surprised, but I'm happy. If you were in our practice gym and just watching practice go this week, I'm just like, 'Guys, let's go. We gotta pick it up.'"
The Rainbow Wahine dropped the opening set in both of their road wins last weekend, but ended the brief trend of slow starts with a 6-1 run midway through the opening set and to snap Cal Poly's run of 12 consecutive sets won.
UH took control at the net with five blocks in the second set and closed the match with a 4-0 run in the third set to improve to 10-5 overall and 7-0 in the Big West entering today's match against Cal State Bakersfield (10-5, 3-4 ) at SimpliFi Arena.
The outcome created a bit of separation in the Big West standings, with UH and UC Santa Barbara tied for first while Cal Poly (8-11, 6-2 ) dropped two games back with losses to both of the frontrunners.
UH middle blocker Amber Igiede led a balanced offensive performance with 13 kills and filled the stat sheet with six blocks, seven digs and an ace.
"I love turning around and seeing Amber just in the air and hitting the ground and getting it up, " said UH outside hitter Brooke Van Sickle, who finished with 10 kills and nine digs.
"I know what I'm going to get with her, " Ah Mow said of Igiede's back-row contributions. "It might not look pretty, but the one thing she's going to do is go. She's not just going to watch a ball hit the floor, she's going to go and the ball's going to come up somehow."
Freshman Tayli Ikenaga led UH's defensive effort with 14 digs and the Wahine finished with eight blocks after posting just one in the opening set.
Riley Wagoner, the reigning Big West Offensive Player of the Week, was quiet early on and had four of her eight kills in the third set and finished with 10 digs. Braelyn Akana posted seven kills and two blocks and setter Kate Lang finished with 38 assists.
Cal Poly's night took a painful turn early when outside hitter Jamie Stivers, the Mustangs' kills leader, went down after a kill attempt and came up holding her left elbow. After being tended to by the team trainer, Stivers remained on the court for the rest of the set but sat out the next two.
Freshman Tommi Stockham led Cal Poly with 10 kills, but the Mustangs cooled off considerably after hitting.360 in their previous four wins.
After controlling the opening set, UH trailed 12-11 in the second before going on a 6-1 run that included three blocks and an ace by Wagoner. Igiede was in on four blocks in the set and Akana added a solo block that gave UH a 22-15 lead. UH's block contributed to Cal Poly hitting.071 in the set.
"I would say the communication was a little better with the blockers at the net, " Igiede said. "Coach Rob just said we just have to be low and tight on the blocks. I think we made good adjustments on the timing."
Neither team opened up more than a two-point cushion deep into a third set that saw 14 ties and five lead changes. The last lead change came after Cal Poly took a 22-21 lead on Kristina Jordan's seventh kill of the match. After a UH timeout, back-to-back Cal Poly hitting errors gave UH a 23-22 lead. Igiede's kill in the middle gave UH two shots at match point. It appeared Cal Poly fought off the first when setter Avalon DeNecochea won a joust at the net. But Ah Mow asked for a review and the replay revealed a net violation on the Mustangs to end the match.
The Wahine coaching staff went 3-for-3 on challenges, including a reversal on another net violation earlier in the third set that kept UH within a point at 16-15 instead of going down 17-14.—Big West volleyball At SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center CSU Bakersfield (10-5, 3-4 BWC ) vs. Hawaii (x-x, x-x )—When : Today, 7 p.m.—TV : Spectrum OC16—Radio : 1500-AM