Monday | November 20, 2017
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College volleyball: Injury-riddled Vulcans lose in four to Dominican

Not quite enough firepower, not quite enough serving juice.

With what coach Gene Krieger called the “Band-Aid brigade” sitting next to him on the bench, UH-Hilo’s short-handed volleyball team came up short of trying to steal one Friday night, falling 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-19 to Dominican at the Vulcans’ gym.

The walking wounded included two of UH-Hilo’s top three hitters, Siera Green and Lucee Fitzgerald, and four and all.

“I thought before the match we’re going to have more people on the sideline than on the court,” Krieger said.

The first-year coach wasn’t able to pull any rabbits out of his sleeve, despite the best efforts of freshman middle blocker Ashton Jesse, who swatted 16 kills on .480 hitting. Freshman Amber Tai stepped up as well with 12 kills and 12 digs, and Evelin Solyomvari and Kiley Davis added 10 kills apiece.

“Considering we had to put a patchwork lineup out there, I was pretty pleased with how competitive and how much spirit we showed.

“Unfortunately, I actually thought we had the second set in the bag.”

The Vulcans (8-10, 5-6 Pacific West Conference) also were playing without Sha Rae Niu, a key cog in UHH’s two-setter system, as well as sophomore middle blocker Armani Moultrie, who was slated to see more playing time with Green and Fitzgerald sidelined.

Fitzgerald missed her fifth consecutive match with a leg injury and also figures to sit out the Vulcans’ home match at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Chaminade, but Krieger declined to give a prognosis for Green, Niu and Moultrie against the Silverswords.

In front of a crowd of 277 that included a loud contingent from Pahoa intermediate school, early on it looked like UHH might be able to serve its way to health. The Vulcans had four aces in the first set – two by Bausi Sauna – against no errors, but those numbers balanced out a bit during the match.

“We definitely had a serving plan and we did good at times, but at some point you have to hit the ball and score some points,” Krieger said.

The Vulcans came up with plenty of points against Dominican (8-10, 5-6) in a five-set victory on the road just 12 days ago, but Green led the way with 13 kills and Fitzgerald added six before suffering her injury the next night.

And while the Vulcans’ middle hitters might have picked up some of the slack, perhaps the extra offensive attention affected their defense. After finishing with 19 blocks last time out against the Penguins, UH-Hilo only came up with three on Friday.

Sauni finished with career-high 50 assists, 12 digs and three aces.

Looking to forge a 2-0 lead, Game 2 turned sour after Jesse’s kill tied the set at 21-21.

Spurred by a kill and an ace by Josie Walser, Dominican took the game and then used a similar late-game run to claim the third set and a quick 5-0 lead in Game 4 helped the Penguins cruise. Catherine Johnson closed the match with a kill, her team-leading 14th as Dominican won the hitting battle .252-.189 and came up with 12 blocks.


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