Hawaii roundup: UH braces for semifinal against BYU
Perhaps the sight of Brigham Young blue or the sound of the Cougars’ roar won’t be so fierce in Long Beach.
Even so, Hawaii’s men’s volleyball team knows it can’t simply hope that the third meeting with BYU will be different than the first two.
The third time certainly wasn’t a charm for Pepperdine, who the Rainbow Warriors slammed Saturday night 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 in front of a season-high crowd of 6,691 at Stan Sheriff in Honolulu to punch a ticket to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinals.
After finishing a perfect 18-0 at its home, Hawaii (25-4) gets the second-seeded Cougars on Thursday at the home of the tournament’s top seed, Long Beach State.
UH dropped two three-set matches to BYU in mid-March in Provo, Utah.
“I thought when we played them we weren’t just quite ourselves,” UH coach Charlie Wade said Saturday night on the OCSports telecast. “Hoping we can show them a little bit more about what we’re about. Looking forward to the match and playing on the neutral court.”
In the quarterfinals, the Rainbow Warriors picked up right where they left off after sweeping the Waves (10-12) twice at home in late February.
Senior outside hitter Kupono Fey and sophomore opposite Stijn van Tilburg each tallied 14 kills and Hawaii accumulated a season-high 17.5 blocks, led by freshman middle blocker Patrick Gasman’s career-high eight. Fellow middle Hendrik Mol added five blocks along with six kills and two aces.
UH hit .344, holding the Waves to .095.
Mol said the team was amped up after waiting around all week to play a single match, then having Good Friday off from classes.
“We were pretty jittery and wanted to play and so full of adrenaline,” Mol said. “We went out there and smacked them right in the face.
“It think we got to use all that built-up adrenaline.”
BYU (24-3) hit .440 and .329, respectively, in the first two matches against Hawaii.
Mol realizes that needs to change.
“We have to stop their (hitters),” he said. “They were going off. … We couldn’t pull through like we usually do.
“Maintain our energy, stop their (hitters) and serve well.”
All four higher seeds held serve in the quarters. BYU swept Stanford, with Kamehameha graduate Evan Enriques notching five assists and two digs for the Cardinal.
Hawaii’s other two losses this season came at The Pyramid against the Beach in January. Top-seeded Long Beach State (25-3) gets UC Irvine in the other semifinal. UH and BYU play in the first game at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.
“This is a determined group,” Wade said Saturday. “They worked hard and they certainly didn’t want their season to end.”
Eric Ramirez hit a two-run home run Saturday and Alex Fitchett followed with a two-run shot to give Hawaii the lead for good as the Rainbow Warriors beat UC Riverside 7-4, taking two of three in the road series.
Neil Uskali (5-2) allowed four runs in six inning and then got help from his bullpen. Dylan Thomas nailed down his fourth save, going 2 1/3 innings for UH (21-12, 3-3 Big West).
Connor Cannon hit two home runs for Riverside (13-18, 2-7).
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