Aces wild as Hawai'i sweeps Boise State
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By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Ann Miller
For its third match in five days, 11th-ranked Hawai'i served Boise State off the volleyball court to skate out of town with a 30-22, 30-16, 30-24 victory last night.
It was the Rainbow Wahine's 131st consecutive victory over a Western Athletic Conference opponent. Hawai'i (12-4, 6-0 WAC) has also won its past seven this year and 27 straight games against WAC teams.
The 'Bows leave tonight for matches at Louisiana Tech tomorrow and 25th-ranked New Mexico State on Friday. But last night, before 3,958 at Stan Sheriff Center, the volleyball living was easy before a happy home crowd and against an opponent that did not have a serious weapon.
The Broncos' major threat — all-WAC middle Cameron Flunder — only got a look at 14 sets because Boise's passers could not keep up with Hawai'i's servers, who had 11 aces. She killed but five and hit 100 points below her average.
"We had a hard time getting the ball to Cameron Flunder, who is our star," said Boise State coach Robin Davis. "It seemed like in her rotations we weren't able to pass the ball well enough to set the slide (play)."
Hawai'i scored the first four points of the match. For much of the first game, it looked like it would need every one.
While the Broncos (8-10, 2-4) hung on and hung in behind Jeanette Jenkins (six kills) and Jamie Claussen (four), the 'Bows quickly lost focus. Balls fell between players, shots went into the bottom of the net and the passing was so out of sync half the sets went to the back row.
That worked OK when Sarah Mason was drilling four of her first five swings, but eventually she and Jamie Houston began to miss. Boise caught UH at 19 and forced coach Dave Shoji to call time.
"We made some really silly plays early," Kari Gregory said. "We weren't into the game like we should have been so he just kind of reminded us to focus and concentrate on what we were doing."
When that happened, the Broncos had no defense.
The 'Bows scored the next six and cruised in, hitting .438 as Houston finished with seven kills and Mason six. They broke to a 6-2 advantage in Game 2, then went into another funk as the Broncos scored five straight.
Their fourth missed serve killed that rally and Hawai'i didn't give them another chance. Houston served two aces in a 4-0 surge and Mason drilled her fourth ace in a 3-0 run that made it 18-11.
After Houston missed, then made kills, Gregory effectively ended all drama. She served eight straight, including two aces. That made it 27-12 before Shoji took mercy on the Bronco passers and began to use his bench by bringing in Rayna Kitaguchi, who immediately induced a bad pass that Juliana Sanders slammed for her fourth kill of the streak.
Ultimately, Boise couldn't stop Houston (18 kills) or Mason (11) on the left. Sanders added 11 kills and Gregory nine.
Boise State had no more rallies left in Game 3, when Hawai'i started Cayley Thurlby at setter, Raeceen Woolford at libero and freshman Amber Kaufman on the right. Caroline Blood came in at 27-22 and got the second stuff of her career, then tacked on two kills to make her career total five.
Sophomore Jamie Houston became the fourth Rainbow Wahine in history to earn AVCA National Player of the Week honors yesterday. Houston was also named Western Athletic Conference volleyball Player of the Week after helping Hawai'i hammer its closest pursuers over the weekend.
Houston had 23 kills in UH's sweep of Utah State on Friday and 18 more against Nevada on Sunday, when she also collected 10 digs. She hit .400 in the matches, to raise her season percentage to .246.
The Rainbows moved up four places, to No. 11, in yesterday's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. The top nine remained the same, while LSU was replaced by Texas at No. 10.
Reach Ann Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.