A day after Hawaii’s position at the pinnacle of NCAA Division I-II men’s indoor volleyball might have appeared to slip, the two-time defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Rainbow Warriors said, “Not so fast.”
Hawaii (17-1) roared from behind in the fourth set, held off two set points that would have sent the match to a fifth and defeated No. 2 UCLA (19-2) 29-27, 21-25, 25-22, 28-28 on Saturday night in Honolulu to climax a chaotic 27th OUTRIGGER Invitational.
The coaches on the voting panel of the AVCA poll will have a myriad of conflicting data to sort out: UCLA beat No. 3 Penn State in five, Penn State topped Hawaii in four and Hawaii defeated UCLA in four over an intense three days of OUTRIGGER action on Oahu.
In locales less exotic than Honolulu, men’s volleyball highlights on Saturday saw Long Beach State and UC Irvine record Big West victories, Pepperdine top USC again in the MPSF, another “W” for BYU over Ohio State, a stifling defensive performance by Charleston and the nation’s top hitter in kills average pad his stats with 49 over seven sets in a doubleheader.
As 10,300 fans packed SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, homestanding Hawaii of the Big West bounced back after having its 25-match winning streak snapped on Friday. Up two sets to one, the Rainbow Warriors trailed 13-9, 15-11 and 22-20 in the fourth against the MPSF’s UCLA, but were able to pull even at 23. The Bruins served for the set at 24-23 and 25-24 but were denied by Spyros Chakas’ kill and a serving error by freshman Zach Rama.
At 26-all, Hawaii picked up a point on Ethan Champlin’s attack error and then sent the big crowd home happy when returning first-team All-American Champlin was rejected by Jakob Thelle and Kurt Nusterer.
Dimitrios Mouchlias did the heavy lifting on offense for Hawaii with 22 kills on 41 swings, getting 44.8% of his team’s winners. Chakas contributed nine kills, two aces and five block assists. The Bows played much cleaner than the Bruins, who made 24 attack errors and gave away 25 points from the serving line. Ido David led UCLA with 21 kills and returning first-team All-American middle Merrick McHenry had 11 kills on .647 hitting and three blocks, two solo.
After its upset of Hawaii, third-ranked Penn State (17-2) of the EIVA consolidated its gains with a taking-care-of-business thumping of the MIVA’s Purdue Fort Wayne (12-8) on the final day of the OUTRIGGER’s round-robin. The Nittany…
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