The first set was epic. The last two were pretty special, too, for the University of Hawaii.
The Rainbow Warriors downed No. 2 BYU 37-35, 25-20, 25-19 on Saturday, completing a two-match sweep on Senior Night at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
The victory was important beyond sentimental reasons. The Rainbow Warriors (15-10, 13-9 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) moved into three-way tie for sixth place in the league with just two volleyball matches remaining. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Sophomore outside hitter Sinisa Zarkovic finished with a match-high 22 kills on .410 hitting as UH hit a torrid .419 clip. Junior opposite Brook Sedore added 11 kills and two service aces and the seniors had their say as well. Jace Olsen and Nick West each posted nine kills while Joby Ramos compiled 50 assists with nine digs.
UH’s other seniors are Aniefre Etim-Thomas and Johann Timme.
“I’m just really proud of these guys and will be sad to see them go,” coach Charlie Wade said on OC16’s postgame show. “They really helped stockpile some talent. We got a lot of young guys that are going to be really good that weren’t ready to come out and play full-time. This group helped us increase the talent.”
In the 41-minute first set — the longest in the MPSF since BYU and UC Davis played to the same score in 2012 — UH finally converted on its ninth game point when West put down his fourth kill of the match.
The Cougars (18-6, 18-4), who hit .271 and were led by Taylor Sander’s 17 kills, still need one victory to wrap up the outright league championship.
With its playoff hopes on the line, UH finishes at second-place Pepperdine (16-6, 16-6) on Friday and Saturday.
Jerry McClanahan delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh and Elliot Surrey pitched seven strong innings as UC Irvine edged Hawaii 3-2 in Honolulu.
UH (14-15, 2-3 Big West) scored both of its runs in the fourth. Kaeo Aliviado tripled and scored on Jordan Richartz’s hit, and Marcus Doi followed with an RBI single.
Scott Kuzminsky (3-3) pitched well in relief after taking over for Scott Squires in the fifth but took the loss. Kuzminsky allowed only a run on six hits, walking one batter as UH lost for the second straight night in the three-game series.
Elliot (4-2) struck out five for the Anteaters (20-10, 4-1), and Sam Moore didn’t allow a hit in his two innings to gain his 12th save.
Lindsey Willmon hit a game-winning single to give UH a 6-5 victory against Cal State Fullerton in the first game of a doubleheader in Honolulu.
The Titans struck back in the second for a 12-3 TKO victory, taking two of three in the series.
In the bottom of the first in the first game, Willmon hit a solo home run, and Heather Morales survived 12 hits and three home runs allowed in the circle to improve to 9-6.
Leisha Li’ili’i drove in three runs for the Rainbow Warriors (19-16, 4-2).
In the second game, Fullerton (23-14-1, 4-2) battered Loie Kesterson (10-7) for 10 hits and eight runs — seven earned — in 4 2/3 innings.
Willmon and Jasmine Zamora hit back-to-back home runs for UH. But Ariel Tsuchiyama, Melissa Sechrest, Gabby Aragon and Carissa Turang drove in two runs apiece for the Titans to back Wesley Monique (3-2).
Caity Lopes da Silva, Paula Chillida Esforzado and Claire Nixon each scored twice and No. 9 UH held on to beat No. 15 UC Santa Barbara 8-7 in Santa Barbara, Calif., ending a four-match winning streak.
Goalkeeper Amy Carlson made two key stops late for UH (14-9, 2-2 Big West). The Gauchos fell to 10-12, 1-1.
With No. 1 duo Sarah Mendoza and Karissa Cook leading the way, UH beat Hawaii Pacific 4-1 in Honolulu, improving to 13-2 with its seventh straight win.