No. 3 Hawai’i serve up upset win in sweep over No. 1 Grand Canyon

No. 3 Hawai’i serve up upset win in sweep over No. 1 Grand Canyon

No. 3 Hawai’i serve up upset win in sweep over No. 1 Grand Canyon

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED MARCH 9, 2024

HONOLULU — The matchup between two of the top three teams in the country turned out to be a one-sided affair.

No. 3 Hawai’i swept No. 1 Grand Canyon before a crowd of 8,422 on day two of the Outrigger Volleyball Invitational at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center Friday night.

The Rainbow Warriors (16-1) outperformed the Lopes (15-2) in every category for their 15th straight win while handing GCU its second loss of the year in as many nights.

It started from the service line. Hawai’i tallied eight total aces to GCU’s one while the Lopes committed 12 service errors that prevented them from gaining any momentum. Middle blocker Kurt Nusterer led the serving game with three aces for the ‘Bows, with two coming on back-to-back points to give Hawai’i a 12-8 lead in set three.

The ‘Bows also had more digs (19) and had 10 total blocks to the Lopes’ four.

“The defense was really good, triggered by the serving,” said Hawai’i coach Charlie Wade. “We’ve always been preaching, the serving, it defines us. We spent a ton of time on it for years and years and years and when we get it rolling tonight, we can put a lot of pressure on teams.”

Pin hitters Spyros Chakas and Alaka’i Todd each had two aces apiece and finished with 14 and 11 kills respectively in what was an efficient hitting night for the ‘Bows (.449).

Chaz Galloway added seven kills and middle Guilherme Voss had five more to round out the top attackers for Hawai’i with setter Tread Rosenthal finishing with 37 assists.

“I think we’re hitting for a high clip right now and that’s amazing,” said Rosenthal. “I do owe our middles a lot of gratitude. They’re pulling a lot of the opposition and it makes my life easier, it makes our outside hitters, our right side hitters’ lives way easier.”

It was a slow start offensively for Hawai’i, hitting .261 in the opening frame, but two quick kills by Voss for the home team’s first and third point of the match saw the Lopes adjust their coverage, which in turn presented opportunities at the pins.

“(Tread) did a nice job of running the offense based on how they defended us,” said Wade.

“We’re sending Guilherme all over the court and he’s taking people with him so we don’t have to set him. If I can move a chess piece on the board and you move guys with him, yeah we’re going to set over there (to the pins) so he’s really valuable. We’ve set him enough at different times and we started the match setting him then all of a sudden they’re making a choice and Tread is doing a really nice job of playing that chess game.”

The scoring was back-and-forth in the opening set before back-to-back blocks gave Hawai’i a 6-3 lead. The ‘Bows continued to grow their lead over the course of the frame with their defense as they had 10 digs and five blocks in the stanza. Hawai’i led 15-8 at the media timeout and led by as many as 18-9 before winning the set on a service error.

The second set was the ‘Bows’ most efficient set, hitting .650, but it was a tightly contested affair for the first half of the frame. The score was tied 12 before a service error and a hitting error by GCU saw Hawai’i hold a 15-12 advantage at the set’s media timeout. Another attack error by the Lopes out of the media timeout saw GCU take its own timeout down 16-12.

GCU fought to pull within one, 18-17, before a 3-0 run capped by Voss’ solo block pushed Hawai’i ahead by four points to force another timeout. Another service error by the Lopes and a Galloway-Nusterer block ultimately gave Hawai’i the final two points of the set.

Set three was a dominant performance by the ‘Bows from the service line. In addition to Nusterer’s back-to-back aces in the frame, Chakas had an ace to give Hawai’i a 16-10 lead before Todd landed the ‘Bows’ eighth ace of the night for a commanding 19-12 lead.

Gianni Camden put down a match-high 16 kills tin the loss to lead GCU, who hit just .304 for the match.

Hawai’i will wrap up the Invitational on Sunday against No. 5 UC-Irvine in a 5 p.m. contest while GCU will try to avoid leaving the islands winless in a 2 p.m. contest against No. 14 Lewis.