By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
University of Hawaii at Hilo freshmen Marley Strand-Nicolaisen and Kyndra Trevino-Scott didn’t had time to bite their fingernails or think about being nervous while starting their collegiate volleyball careers on a high note this past week.
The promising underclassmen played like poised veterans to help the Vulcans start off the 2013-14 season with back-to-back wins on their home court. On Thursday night, UHH topped the University of Alaska-Fairbanks 25-18, 25-16, 25-17. Then on Saturday afternoon, Strand-Nicolaisen had a match-high 20 kills and Trevino-Scott added 10 kills in 16 attempts to spark an impressive 25-22, 26-24, 25-20 win over the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
The strong play of Strand-Nicolaisen and Trevino-Scott has left UHH head coach Tino Reyes nearly speechless.
“They sure didn’t play like freshmen today,” Reyes said Saturday after watching his young squad go to 2-0. “Marley played lights out, hitting .357 with 20 kills. Kyndra hit .625 with 10 kills in 16 attempts and no errors.”
But Reyes also quickly pointed out that while the 6-foot Strand-Nicolaisen, an outside hitter from Ka’u High School, and the 5-11 Trevino-Scott, an outside hitter from Penryn, Calif., carried the hammers, “the rest of the kids really supported them.”
Freshman Sienna Davis, a 5-10 setter out of Kamehameha-Maui, continued to run an effective attack. She finished with 29 assists, five digs, two block assists and an ace.
“I’m kind of amazed at how well all the kids are playing,” Reyes said. “They’re doing some things on the court that you just can’t teach. It’s fun to watch them and we know they’ll get better along the way.”
Reyes has five freshmen on his 13-player roster. Defensive specialist Kelia Parrilla is the Vuls’ only senior this year.
Against UAA, Strand-Nicolaisen had 21 kills in 42 swings, with five errors. She also added five digs and three service aces.
Trevino-Scott also had four block assists to lead the Vuls in that category.
Julia Mackey led the visitors with 11 kills in 29 attempts, with two errors and a .310 hitting clip. Setter Siobhan Johansen had a team-high 23 assists and match-high five aces.
As a team, UHH hit a robust .349 for the match while UAA had a .265 hitting percentage. The Vulcans also had seven aces, 40 digs and 10 block assists compared to the visitors’ six, 44 and 10, respectively.
The Vulcans next host East Central University on Thursday at UHH. The match begins at 7 p.m. The teams also play on Saturday, in a 3 p.m. contest.
At UHH Gym
UAA 22 24 20
UHH 25 26 25