Down to their final set and without two of their key players, the University of Hawaii dug deep to garner an improbable postseason berth.
Opposite Brook Sedore was magnificent with a career-high 31 kills on .489 hitting Saturday as the Warriors rallied into the playoffs by beating Cal San Diego 25-27, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21, 15-11 in La Jolla, Calif.
The victory in its 13th five-set match of the season coupled with Cal State Northridge’s loss to Long Beach State secured the eighth seed for Hawaii (11-16, 10-14 MPSF) at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs. UH will play top-seeded Brigham Young on April 20 in Provo, Utah.
Northridge collapsed down the stretch, losing its final five matches.
Hawaii, which had lost four of six before its two-match sweep against the Tritons (7-22, 4-20), almost wasn’t able to take advantage of its good fortune Saturday until Sedore came through with some timely points late in the match. The sophomore outside hitter also had a team-high eight digs.
Middle blocker Taylor Averill posted nine kills on .412 hitting for the Warriors, who hit .246 while playing for the second consecutive night without starting outside hitters Sinisa Zarkovic and JP Marks.
Sedore’s kill and solo block gave Hawaii a 22-19 lead in the fourth set, and after Sedore and Sebastian Brady traded two kills apiece, Sedore stuffed Brady to extend his team’s season.
Sedore put down a kill to stake the Warriors to a 10-8 lead in the fifth set, and he was part of a triple block that increased the lead to 12-9. Kills by Sedore and Jace Olsen (eight kills) secured coach Charlie Wade’s fourth postseason appearance and first since 2011.
Vaun Lennon came off the bench for a team-high 14 kills for the Tritons, who hit .264 and produced 22 service errors