Jane Croson powered a season-high 22 kills and Emily Hartong had 17 to lead the University of Hawaii to a 25-20, 25-13, 25-19 win over Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament on Friday at the Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle.
In the nightcap, host and No. 13 seed Washington swept Central Arkansas 25-13, 25-17, 25-18.
Hawaii (27-2 overall, 18-0 Big West) will battle Washington (24-6) at 5 p.m. today in the second round with the winner earning a berth in the Omaha Regional, scheduled Dec. 7-8. Today’s match will be broadcast live on OCSports, channels 16 and 1016 (HD) with Jim Leahey calling play-by-play and Chris McLachlin providing color commentary.
Croson, a 5-foot-11 sophomore outside hitter from Lakewood, Calif., registered 16 kills with only one error in the first two games as Hawaii controlled the match, dominating play at the net and relying on its potent hitting attack against the smaller Broncos. Croson finished with a .419 hitting percentage an had nine digs.
Hartong, a 6-2 junior from Los Alamitos, Calif. and the Big West’s Player of the Year, followed with her 17 kills in a potent one-two punch for Hawaii. The Rainbow Wahine also got an outstanding match from junior setter Mita Uiato, who consistently fed her teammates quality passes in the hard-hitting attack.
The Rainbow Wahine, under longtime coach Dave Shoji, are riding a 20-match win streak.
“Jane (Croson) and Hartong had a great night,” Shoji said. “But coming in I was concerned about Santa Clara. I knew we had the ability to beat them. We didn’t get much from our middles, but we’ll need them tomorrow night.”
Croson and Hartong combined for 83 of UH’s 114 swings or 73 percent.
Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Milton led Santa Clara with 10 kills, hitting .280, and added 11 digs.
This is Hawaii’s second postseason trip in three years to Seattle. In 2010, Washington swept the Rainbow Wahine in straight sets in the second round.
Santa Clara has played the Rainbow Wahine 10 times and never beaten them.
The NCAA’s women’s D-I volleyball tournament’s Final Four will be held Dec. 13 and 15 at Louisville, Ky.
Hawaii 25 25 25
Santa Clara 20 13 19