Wahine take care of business
HONOLULU — Emily Hartong had 21 kills, three aces and six digs and Nikki Taylor added 11 kills, two aces and eight digs Friday night to help the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team surge past Idaho State 25-16, 19-25, 25-12, 25-13 in NCAA Tournament first-round action.
A spirited crowd of 8,238 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 11th-ranked Rainbow Wahine improve to 25-4 and advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m. second-round match vs. No. 21 Brigham Young (23-6). The Cougars outlasted Arizona State, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 24-26,15-10 in the other first-round match.
Saturday’s match will be televised live statewide on OC16, and the winner will advance to next week’s regionals in Los Angeles.
“BYU is sixth in the country in blocks, and that concerns us,” UH coach Dave Shoji said. “They’re a physical team with athleticism at every position. We’re gonna need ball-control, we gotta run our offense and avoid their block, and we need to play tough defense against their hitters.”
Idaho State ended its season at 23-12, but rebounded from the first-set stumble to surprisingly outplay UH in the second set and tie the match at one game apiece heading into the 10-minute intermission.
The Rainbow Wahine won the first set largely on the strength of a firm serve, as Hartong notched three aces during a 7-0 run that broke an early 6-6 tie. Ali Longo later added two aces to help stretch a 16-10 lead to 20-10, and the Bengals could not get closer than six points the rest of the set.
Hawaii hit .348 in the first set, with Hartong notching four kills and Kalei Adolpho three.
But in the second set, Idaho State cleaned up its serve-receive and once in system, used an effective middle attack to take control after it was tied at 8-8. A UH serve-error and mishit put the Bengals up 10-8, and leftside hitter Tressa Lyman had three kills during a 6-1 run that pushed the lead to 16-10. The Rainbow Wahine could not get closer than six points the rest of the way.
After the break, Hawaii took quick command of the third set, jumping out to a 10-3 lead sparked by Hartong’s three kills and aces by Longo and Taylor.
Another ace by setter Mita Uiato later extended the lead to 14-6, but Idaho State later closed it to 15-11 on Lyman’s kill off the block.
That was as close as the Bengals would get, however, as Hartong landed four more kills, including a laser angle shot to cap a 10-1 surge to end the set and put the Rainbow Wahine up 2-1 for the match.
“We toughened up our serve and were blocking better,” Longo said of Hawaii’s play in the third set. “We did a better job communication-wise, and it showed in the number of digs we had.”
The Rainbow Wahine had 13 digs in the third set, compared to eight in the second.
UH then jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the fourth set, led by Taylor’s two blocks and one kill, and did not allow Idaho State to get closer than four points (9-5) the rest of the way. A 6-1 run extended the lead to 15-6, and after the Bengals closed it to 20-12, Hartong had three kills and a block and Taylor finished it off with an ace.
Lyman led Idaho State with 13 kills and added six digs.