Hawai’i turns on jets, hand Stanford second loss of year in four sets

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 7, 2024

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors dispatched the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal in four sets Wednesday night, 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-12, in the first of two meetings between the nationally-ranked programs in Mānoa this week.  

The visitors surprised UH out of the gate, taking control over the opening frame from the hosting Rainbow Warriors with a 5-0 run to jump ahead, 13-9. While Hawai’i stabilized, the Cardinal was more than happy to trade points on the way to an opening set win, 25-21. The ‘Bows hit just .185% on the attack, dropping the first set of a match for just the second time this season and the first inside Stan Sheriff Center. 

The third-ranked Rainbow Warriors responded with a vengeance, dominating the second set behind the consistent play of local boy and Punahou alum Alaka’i Todd to jump ahead by six at the media break, 15-9. Hawai’i continued to steamroll on the other side of the stoppage, closing out the frame, 25-15, on a rocket of an ace by outside hitter Spyros Chakas. The missile serve was the 98th ace in Chakas’ decorated collegiate career, placing him just one away from entering the top-10 in program history. 

The home team got an assist from the “Mānoa Roofing Company” deciding to open in time for the seesaw third set with five blocks helping to decide a closely contested frame and give a 2-1 set advantage to Hawai’i as Kurt Nusterer emphatically closed the door on a Cardinal comeback try with a solo block for the 25th and ultimate point. 

Stanford stuck closely with Hawai’i in the fourth set until the midway point when Keoni Thiim showed off the sizzling service skills to rattle off an avalanche of seven straight points and finish the frame on an 8-0 run, closing the heavyweight bout with a knockout blow, 25-12. 

Hawai’i, after hitting a ghastly .185% in the first frame, stabilized to finish with a hitting percentage of .346 on the night to hand Stanford its second loss in a row. The Cardinal were without the services of two-time All-American outside hitter Will Rottman as he did not make the trip to the islands as he deals with an injury to his lower extremities. 

Hawai’i was led by Todd’s career night as the Punahou alum finished with a match-best 17 kills to set a new career-high mark for himself. OIA product ‘Eleu Choy turned in his second double-digit digs match of the year, finishing with exactly 10 on the night.  

Chakas also finished with double-digit kills, posting 15 through four sets in front of the Rainbow Warriors’ biggest crowd of the season so far. 

Hawai’i (9-1) returns to the floor on Friday for a rematch against Stanford (7-2) with first serve scheduled around 7:00 p.m. HT. Fans are encouraged to wear white as the Rainbow Warriors look to sweep the Cardinal and win for the 11th consecutive time against their MPSF adversaries.