Hawai’i wins volleyball title | NevadaAppeal.com

Hawai’i wins volleyball title

THOMAS RANSON
Appeal News Service

RENO – The University of Hawai’i proved once again they are among the elite in college volleyball.

The eighth ranked and No. 1 seeded Rainbow Wahine won their 11th Western Athletic Conference title in defeating No. 2 Utah State – 30-25, 30-27 and 30-25 – Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center.

With the win, Hawai’i improves to 25-6 and earns the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament while Utah State (21-12) awaits today whether they will receive an at-large bid.

“I think we had a very even performance tonight. It wasn’t emotional for us,” Hawai’i coach Dave Shoji said.

Jamie Houston powered the Wahine with a match high 17 kills and tournament MVP Victoria Prince added 11 accompanied by a .476 attack percentage.

“It’s an honor to be named the MVP,” said Prince, who also earned the MVP award last season. “It’s all owed to my teammates.”

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Tara Hittle recorded a double-double with 15 digs and 10 kills, and Kanoe Kamana’o dished out 41 assists. Ashley Watanabe led Hawai’i in digs with 18.

Houston, Prince, Hittle and Kamana’o were also selected to the All-WAC Tournament team.

“I never felt we lost control,” Hittle said. “When we were ahead, we need to keep pushing. We have good enough players where we can regain our focus.”

Looking at the box score of the first game, Shoji was puzzled that the Aggies out-performed his team in almost every category. Yet, Hawai’i still managed to pull off the five-point win.

“I found that hard to believe,” he said. “I don’t know how we were able to win by five points. I’m not so sure how we won.”

Prince agrees with her coach, but said the difference was Hawai’i’s team effort.

“That’s crazy,” Prince said. “I felt like it was a lot different than that. We played a lot harder.”

The Aggies outgained the Wahine in kills by nine, attack percentage by .32, assists by 11, and digs by four.

Utah State coach Burt Fuller tipped his hat to Hawai’i and its continued dominance in the WAC.

“I would like to congratulate Hawai’i on their WAC championship,” Fuller said. “They had demonstrated again they are the team to beat in the WAC.”

Fuller thought the main difference in the match came at the service line where his team committed 10 errors and Hawai’i powered six aces.

“We felt we needed to be good at the service line … we weren’t able to do that today,” Fuller said.

Zuzana Cernianska led the Aggies with 16 kills, Beth Hodge added 11, and both also had seven digs.

“We didn’t fight enough for this game,” said Cernianska, who was named to the tournament team along with Carolyn Forbush.

Dominique Arsenault dealt 33 assists and Kelsi Peterson recorded 15 digs.

“We came out knowing we had a good chance in beating them,” Hodge said. “Things didn’t fall our way.”

Other players recognized to the all-tournament team include Nevada’s Tristin Johnson and Salaia Salave’a, New Mexico State’s Kim Oguh and Jackie Choi, Boise State’s Cameron Flunder, and Louisiana Tech’s Ambra Hayes.

With today’s selection for the NCAA tournament, Shoji hopes his team will play on the West Coast during the first round.

“There are going to be a lot of clusters they can send us to,” Shoji said. “We’re hoping it’s in the western part of the nation rather than the east. Or they can send three teams to Hawai’i and we can host.”