Wahine improve to 6-5 with another sweep of Northern Arizona
With a sweep of Northern Arizona, Hawaii climbs above .500 for the first time this season
Balance and confidence. It was the one-two punch that Hawaii wanted and needed as it concluded its nonconference volleyball schedule on Saturday night with a 2514, 25-12, 25-12 sweep of Northern Arizona. A Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 4,369 saw 15 Rainbow Wahine play in the 88-minute match, eight of them recording two or more kills. Led by senior middle Emily Maglio’s 11 kills and a career-high 10 from sophomore hitter McKenna Ross, Hawaii (6-5) moved above .500 for the first time this season with its fourth consecutive victory. Sophomore setter Norene Iosia finished with her third consecutive double-double (24 assists, 11 digs), her seventh for the year, and senior libero Savanah Kahakai added 17 digs, her seventh match in double digits.
“I’m happy with the balance — everyone came in and took care of business,” Wahine coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos said. “Moving from the first day until now you see the improvement — can use all the players on the bench knowing they can contribute.
“I feel good, having the ability that we can put other people in and they’ll take control.” That happened with Ross, who replaced junior hitter McKenna Granato in Set 2. Somewhat undersized at 5-foot-10, the daughter of former two-sport athlete Jason Ross used what the NAU block gave her and hit smart, with just two errors and a .348 percentage.
“We always talk about coming in off the bench with confidence,” said junior reserve setter Faith Ma’afala, who played in parts of the last two sets. “I saw her performing with confidence and, when I came in, I took that confidence for myself and said, ‘I can do this, let’s go.’ ”
Hawaii went hard for most of the match, particularly on serve and on defense. While only finishing with six aces — down from the 13 recorded in Friday’s sweep — the Wahine kept the Lumberjacks out of system and often forced overpasses that resulted in slamback kills.
Hawaii also threw some wrinkles into its offense heading into Friday’s Big West opener with UC Irvine (12-1). The goal has been to have Maglio become a six-rotation player, where she serves as well as attacks from behind the 3-meter line. Maglio, an All-American on the beach, served for four straight as the Wahine pulled away at 21-11 in Set 3, a run that included her second career ace and back-row kill. Ross put down her 10th kill to jumpstart a 4-0 closing spurt that included Ma’afala’s first career kill, on a dump shot, and freshman defensive specialist Rika Okino her first career ace, one that hit the tape and rolled over to end the night.
Junior hitter Kaylie Jorgenson had 10 kills for the Lumberjacks (4-7).
Set 1 was nearly a repeat of Friday’s opener, as senior defensive specialist Clare-Marie Anderson camped out on the back line as Hawaii jumped out 7-1. Maglio was in on four straight points, two kills sandwiching two blocks. The Wahine sided out at 85 percent, allowing the Lumberjacks to score consecutive points only twice. NAU did a better job on serve-receive until the middle of Set 2. Kahakai’s extended stay on the back line included an ace and two kills on service overpasses and the Lumberjacks used both timeouts during the 8-0 run. NAU’s lone point during Hawaii’s 11-1 closing spurt came on Kahakai’s service error. Hawaii finished with a 6246 edge in digs.
In the earlier alumnae match, the White defeated the Green 20-25, 25-16, 12-10 (time limit).
The match started off with Ah Mow-Santos serving an ace for the White. Set 1 ended with a kill by Aven Lee, the Wahine director of volleyball operations.
The current Hawaii players were able to watch part of the earlier match. Said Ma’afala: “Everyone is legendary out there.”
UH setter Norene Iosia watched middle hitter Emily Maglio get a kill past a Northern Arizona block.
Savanah Kahakai returned a Lumberjacks hit. Kahakai led the Rainbow Wahine with 17 digs.