Hawai’i dispatches UCSB in 4 sets, advances to Big West semifinals

Hawai’i dispatches UCSB in 4 sets, advances to Big West semifinals

3rd-seeded Hawai’i huddles after scoring a point against 6th-seed UC Santa Barbara in the 2024 OUTRIGGER Big West Men’s Volleyball Championships, presented by The Hawaiian Islands. UH defeated UCSB in 4 sets. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i dispatches UCSB in 4 sets to advance to Big West semifinals

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APRIL 18, 2024

HONOLULU – For the fourth consecutive season, Hawai’i men’s volleyball has played the role of “Grim Reaper” against UC Santa Barbara. 

Sure, this year started a bit differently, but the end result was still the same as Hawai’i (23-6) dispatched the sixth-seeded Gauchos (9-18) in four sets, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-23, to end the season for UCSB and keep the ‘Bows in the hunt for another berth to the NCAA Tournament.  

2024 marks the third consecutive season that ‘Bows stopped the ‘Chos in the Big West Championships and fourth straight in postseason matchups. 

(Note: Hawai’i defeated UCSB in the 2021 NCAA Tournament semifinals to also end the season for the Gauchos.) 

UH stumbled through a loaded Big West slate to a 5-5 record after the loss of senior floor captain and AVCA National Player of the Year candidate Spyros Chakas on March 10, late in the 5th set against national powerhouse UC Irvine in the OUTRIGGER Volleyball Invitational, the final non-conference match of the season for the ‘Bows. 2024 marked the first time since the Big West Championships in men’s volleyball began that the Rainbow Warriors finished the regular season without a top-2 seed heading into the conference tournament. 

Perhaps playing for their own at-large bid tournament chances, Kurt Nusterer got Hawai’i on the board after giving up first point on a net violation, hammering a kill to the floor to the delight of a loud crowd decked out in green for the Rainbow Warriors’ first appearance in the conference tournament’s quarterfinals. The Gauchos opened a multi-point lead with the next three points, keeping Hawai’i at a healthy distance for the following few rallies. 

A pair of service errors by the ‘Chos brought UH back within one before Nusterer registered an ace to knot the 1st set at 9-all. Following a net error caught via UCSB challenge, the Gauchos re-took the lead and carried that slim one-point advantage into the opening media timeout, 15-14. 

Following the stoppage, an extended rally finished off with an Alaka’i Todd kill tied the 1st set at 15 and Hawai’i finally inched in front for a moment, 18-17, after a Sam Collins attack sailed wide-right. The lead was short-lived for the ‘Bows as UCSB strung together a pair of points to jump back in front by one, but an acrobatic left-handed attack adjustment in air by Keoni Thiim evened the frame at 19. 

Again, two straight points from the Gauchos gave Hawai’i reason to sweat as head coach Charlie Wade called for his first timeout of the match with the ‘Bows trailing, 21-19. The break in the action didn’t help matters much as UCSB came to the cusp of victory with three of the next five points to force another timeout from Wade. 

After Hawai’i used the final timeout of the opening set, the ‘Bows staved off a couple of set points from the visitors before finally seeing Geste Bianchi finish the frame with his sixth kill to clinch a win in the night’s opening stanza for the Gauchos, 25-23. 

Despite 10 service errors from UCSB in the 1st set, the ‘Chos out-hit Hawai’i by a significant margin as the ‘Bows struggled to get into an offensive rhythm. 

The ‘Bows began the 2nd set far quicker than the opener, rattling off five of the first seven points to take the early lead. The ‘Chos responded with the help of some more sloppy play from Hawai’i, tying the frame at six after another Bianchi hammer. 

Hawai’i middle blocker Guilherme Voss reignited an uneasy crowd with a powerful kill to put UH back up one, but back-to-back errors from the Rainbow Warriors gave UCSB its first lead of the 2nd set at 8-7. Kailua’s own Alaka’i Todd pushed his hometown ‘Bows back ahead by one with an ace, 10-9, and UH would take five of the next seven points to head into the 2nd set media timeout leading by four. 

After UC Santa Barbara pulled back within one and Wade called for a timeout, Hawai’i calmed down once again to open up a three-point cushion, 20-17. UH serving specialist Kai Taylor deposited an ace cross-court to put Hawai’i on the cusp of tying the match at a set apiece before a service error from former UH setter and current Gaucho Jack Walmer delivered the victory to his old school as his try sailed wide to end the frame, 25-20. 

Much like its predecessor, the night’s third frame began in Hawai’i’s favor as the Rainbow Warriors raced out to an 8-3 lead to force a timeout from the Gauchos. The break did not stop any UH momentum as Hawai’i increased the advantage to eight after another Nusterer ace, 13-5. 

While the ‘Chos tried to climb back, Hawai’i held UCSB at arms’ length for the remainder of the frame. Chaz Galloway, who entered the match off the bench to provide a spark for Hawai’i in the 2nd set, continued his impact when he combined with Nusterer for a block at the net to claim the third stanza convincingly for the ‘Bows, 25-17. 

“Super proud of Chaz coming off of the bench and really giving us a lift,” Hawai’i head coach Charlie Wade said of his senior’s performance. “[He had] some really nice blocks as well – obviously [UCSB] is a team that back-sets a lot – and I thought he did a really good job of slowing them down.” 

UCSB, not quite ready to bow their heads, jumped out to an early 4-2 lead in the 4th set as Geste Bianchi continued a highly productive night for the lower-seeded Gauchos before Hawai’i tied the frame up at four each. The sides continued to battle, trading points all the way to the media timeout as the ‘Chos went up, 15-14. 

Tread Rosenthal delivered Hawai’i back ahead, 17-16, with a beautiful ace that capped off a 3-1 run from UH after the break in the action and a block from Voss and Galloway made the lead two for the ‘Bows, sending the crowd of nearly 6,000 fans into a frenzy. 

“First off, I want to thank all of the fans who came out tonight,” said Todd when asked about the raucous crowd. “They’re a huge part of how we get out of these funks and how we play well. Just having their support and hearing them, all the aunties and uncles you see in the crowd – It’s a big deal here.” 

That same crowd quickly let their displeasure with the officials known a few points later when UCSB crept back in front, 20-19, after Alaka’i Todd was called for a questionable overreach at the net, forcing a timeout from Wade’s Rainbow Warriors. 

The break in the action and the cheering voices of the Hawai’i men’s volleyball faithful proved to be the lift needed for UH as the ‘Bows fought back in front when freshman setter Tread Rosenthal unleashed his first dunk over the net on the second hit to surprise UCSB, putting Hawai’i in front, 23-22.  

Galloway twirled an ace down to set up an Aloha Ball chance for Hawai’i on the very next play and after one failed chance, Rosenthal uncorked a second surprise kill in the final three points to finish off UC Santa Barbara in the 4th set, 25-23. 

“Thrilled to get the win,” Hawai’i’s Wade said to open his postgame comments. “It wasn’t too pretty all the time out there but [there were] two teams that were really fighting hard.” 

UC Santa Barbara southpaw Geste Bianchi led all players in the match with 24 kills on 51 swings while former UH setter Jack Walmer recorded 33 assists against his former school across the four-set loss for the Gauchos. 

Hawai’i was paced by Alaka’i Todd’s 13 kills on 26 swings, adding three digs and a pair of blocks in the win. Keoni Thiim chipped in eight kills on 16 swings while spinning three aces for the ‘Bows, helping push Hawai’i to the program’s 19th consecutive win over UC Santa Barbara. 

The win pushes the Rainbow Warriors into Friday night’s 2nd semifinal match against #2 seed UC Irvine, who the ‘Bows have already seen three separate times this season. Hawai’i holds a 2-1 advantage through the three meetings, but the teams have split the 12 total frames played with each side winning six sets apiece. 

“Kind of like [against UC Santa Barbara], [UC Irvine] has a bigtime left-handed guy they set a ton and it’ll be a load, for sure,” Wade said of the Rainbow Warriors’ semifinal matchup against the Anteaters. 

First serve for Friday’s semifinal match between #2 UC Irvine and #3 Hawai’i is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. HT / 10:00 p.m. PST, pending the result of the night’s first semifinal matchup between #1 Long Beach State and #5 CSUN. 

Hawai’i survives 5-set thriller with UC Santa Barbara on Senior Night

Hawai’i survives 5-set thriller with UC Santa Barbara on Senior Night

(Left to right) Hawai’i men’s volleyball seniors Kevin Kauling, Guilherme Voss, Alaka’i Todd, Spyros Chakas, Chaz Galloway and Austin Buchanan pose after the Senior Night ceremony for photos. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i survives 5-set thriller with UC Santa Barbara on Senior Night 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 30, 2024

HONOLULU – Nobody does it like Hawai’i. 

The 5th-ranked University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team survived a five-set thriller against 20th-ranked UC Santa Barbara (7-16, 0-7 Big West) on Saturday night, turning in a heart-pounding Senior Night win that had just a bit of everything for nearly 9,000 fans in attendance, (25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 21-25, 15-12). 

Despite UCSB southpaw Geste Bianchi’s match-best 32 kills, the ‘Bows were able to hold off a feisty Gauchos unit for the 18th straight win against the Big West foe. 

Hawai’i French freshman phenom Louis Sakanoko continued his progression with a team-leading 15 kills while putting his fingerprints all over the defense with seven digs and six total blocks in the third Big West win of the season for the ‘Bows. UH posted a season-best 18.5 blocks as a unit, led by middle blocker Kurt Nusterer’s career-best 10 turnaways.

The victory pushed Charlie Wade’s squad to .500 in conference play for the first time this season. After dropping three of their first four Big West matches, Hawai’i was able to clinch the program’s third straight season of 20 wins or more with the victory against the Gauchos.  

The injured Spyros Chakas made his highly anticipated return inside Stan Sheriff Center after suffering a non-contact leg injury in the championship match of the 2024 Outrigger Volleyball Invitational, receiving an ear-splitting cheer from the crowd on hand as he was announced as a “starter” as the team’s 2nd libero. 

With emotions running high, the Rainbow Warriors (20-4, 3-3 Big West) started slowly, allowing UCSB to take the opening two points before a service error put Hawai’i on the board for the first time. UH settled in a little to take a 4-3 lead behind Alaka’i Todd’s first kill of Saturday evening, but four of the next five balls resulted in points for the Gauchos for a multi-score lead, 7-5. 

Hawai’i continued to sleepwalk through a sloppy first portion of the opening set, trailing 15-12 at first media timeout as the offense had a negative hitting percentage and UCSB outside Geste Bianchi ran wild to lift the ‘Chos. 

The break in the action played to Hawai’i’s advantage as the Rainbow Warriors came out of the timeout and rattled off four straight points to take lead,16-15, and force UCSB timeout. 

The ‘Bows continued mounting momentum as Galloway went to his own altitude for a kill after the break for UH’s first multi-point lead of the night. The Gauchos worked to tie it again at 19 before a Patrick Kane attacking error off the left pin gave Hawai’i the needed advantage once again. With three of the next four points going to the Rainbow Warriors, UC Santa Barbara called for timeout to try and stave off a 1st set loss for the second night in a row. 

The attempt proved futile as Voss crushed his first kill of the night to set up a set point chance for the ‘Bows and a Kurt Nusterer-Chaz Galloway combined block loudly ended the opening frame in favor of the home team, 25-21. 

Galloway and Voss continued the fun for Hawai’i with two of the first three points in the 2nd set, but UCSB would again tighten the contest with a constant stream of traded points to a 13-13 deadlock before snagging the next two points to push into the media timeout leading the hosts, 15-13. 

After dropping behind, Hawai’i fought back once again following the stoppage to tie things before USCB pushed close to evening the match at a set each, 24-22. Led by Kurt Nusterer at the service line, UH flipped the script with a 4-0 run to take a two-sets-to-none lead over the Gauchos with a 26-24 win. 

Hawai’i had another sloppy start to the night’s third stanza, falling behind 4-1 off the rip. Steadying back to down just a pair, the Rainbow Warriors tied the set at 13 with back-to-back kills between Sakanoko and Todd from the left and right sides, respectively. USCB sent the match to the frame’s media timeout with the next two points behind the powerful left arm of Bianchi, 15-13. The Gauchos continued their hot third set after the break, forcing two timeouts from Hawai’i while taking a commanding five-point lead, 22-17. 

While it looked like the ‘Bows might repeat the 2nd set’s script with a late comeback try, USCB successfully pushed the match to a 4th round after getting swept Friday night as a Louis Sakanoko serve sailed long to clinch a 25-23 win for the ‘Chos. 

The momentum continued to flow for the foes from Santa Barbara, using a 10-1 run in the 4th set to take control of the frame and head into another media timeout leading, 15-12. This time, the stoppage in action did not aid the ‘Bows as UCSB rolled to a 25-21 win to send the match to a critical 5th set. 

Much like their other matches this season that have gone the distance, Hawai’i tabbed Keoni Thiim as the opener to serve. The local boy and service specialist played a good ball in, but USCB would take the first point of the final frame behind Bianchi’s 29th kill of the evening. 

Sakanoko grabbed the point right back with his 13th putdown of the night and tied the set at two with #14 two rallies later. The flying Frenchman collected his 15th and final kill a few moments following to give Hawai’i the lead and sizzled an ace next for the first multi-point lead of the do-or-die 5th set.  

Then, it was Thiim Time. 

UH’s fiery flyer let the emotions fly as he powered Hawai’i to a 9-5 lead with a pair of scorchers set up by Tread Rosenthal, picking up a yellow card in the process. Rosenthal extended the ‘Bows into double-digits, 10-7, with a dunk on two before UCSB drew within one to force Wade into a timeout. 

Kurt Nusterer helped spark the electricity back into SimpliFi Arena with a massive triple block with Sakanoko and Rosenthal to make it a two-point Rainbow Warrior lead again. Traded service errors maintained the gap for Hawai’i, but a curious ruling on an Alaka’i Todd attack called an error awarded a point to the Gauchos to make it 12-11, Hawai’i. 

Another service error gave a multi-point lead to the ‘Bows and Thiim smashed his third kill of the crucial 5th set to deliver Hawai’i to the doorstep of a Senior Night victory. A red card given to Charlie Wade by the tower official gave a point and the serve to UCSB, providing one last gasp for the Gauchos in efforts for that elusive Big West win. 

Once again, it was Keoni Thiim standing in the way as he crushed his fourth kill on eight total swings to close the door on the ‘Chos, 15-13. 

Seniors Alaka’i Todd and Guilherme Voss each added 12 kills in their final regular season home game inside the Stan Sheriff Center with Todd grabbing his first career double-double by getting down and dirty with a team-high 10 digs. 

Hawai’i totaled 50 digs on the night as a unit with three different players reaching 10 digs as Rosenthal and ‘Eleu Choy put in an inspired effort for the Hawai’i faithful by getting into double-figures along with Todd.  

With business taken care of, the party could begin. 

A hoarse-voiced Charlie Wade took to the PA microphone to personally thank the thousands of fans still in attendance for sticking with the team and supporting them through the most adversity they have faced in years. In all, the special senior class could not have been so special without the fans. 

It was time for the fans to show their aloha one final time in the regular season for their volleyball heroes, giving frenzied cheers and extended standing ovations to a special six seniors that have helped deliver some of the greatest memories in the program’s storied history. 

Opening with Austin Buchanan, who has trooped his way through injuries and adversities, the fans showed how special it is to be a senior for any Hawai’i program. It continued showing to the ‘Bows newest senior, Kevin Kauling, who had transferred to the program from Lewis after multiple AVCA All-America selections to be a part of the Rainbow Warrior ‘ohana. 

The volume reached another level when it was Punahou alum and Kailua native Alaka’i Todd’s turn to take centerstage as Hawai’i showed their incredible love to their own product that proved to be the definition of working hard paying off. An all-time program great in middle blocker Guilherme Voss came next, a force in the middle that still ranks in the top 10 of blocks per set for three years running that fans could recognize as a steady advantage on national champion teams.  

Chaz “Air” Galloway, the high-flying AVCA All-American outside hitter from San Diego, California, and five-year program veteran, certainly was shown the “Aloha Spirit” in his final regular season appearance at the Stan and “felt the love” following the ceremony when interacting with supporters that stayed deep into the evening.  

Finally, the place erupted for Spyros Chakas one more time as the Greek captain crutched his way around the loop to his parents who flew in from Greece for the night, stacked with lei. The all-time program great will leave the program (along with his peers) as a two-time national champion, appearing in three consecutive NCAA title matches and an incredible 108-14 record since the beginning of the 2020 season. 

Hawai’i men’s volleyball’s senior class of 2024 left imprints all over the hearts of UH fans and wrote in ink in multiple record books. With a positive end to the home slate of the regular season, the ‘Bows will now turn their attention to a pair of important road trips against UC Irvine and UC San Diego before the Big West Championships bring them back to Mānoa. 

Hawai’i gets back on track with win over CSUN in Big West home opener

Hawai’i gets back on track with win over CSUN in Big West home opener

Hawai’i men’s volleyball bounced back with a loud 4-set win over CSUN for the first Big West win of the season & first victory after Spyros Chakas’ injury. | Photo Credit: Ku’ulei Agbayani, HSRN

Hawai’i gets back on track with win over CSUN in Big West home opener

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 22, 2024

HONOLULU – Back in the win column. 

The 2nd-ranked Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (18-3, 1-2 Big West) bounced back from last weekend’s tough trip to Long Beach with a four-set victory over 18th-ranked CSUN (9-11, 0-3 Big West) 25-15, 19-25, 27-25, 25-17 – picking up the team’s first win in Big West play this season. 

“We’re still just kind of a work in progress,” Hawai’i head coach Charlie Wade surmised after the match. “We can play really, really good and then [the question]’s just are we going to be able to sustain it. Nice to see us bounce back and play pretty steady in the 3rd and 4th sets against a team that was playing with some confidence.” 

Hawai’i looked to quickly make a statement after falling just short in a five-setter last time out, scoring the match’s first four points and eight of the first 10 to force a CSUN timeout early on. The stop in the action did not slow the ‘Bows, as Guilherme Voss grabbed his third kill of the night and met the Matadors at the net to send the first set to a media timeout with UH leading, 15-6. 

Hawai’i’s domination continued as the laser-focused Rainbow Warriors held a comfortable lead through the rest of the opening frame, cruising to a 25-15 win for a 1-0 set lead. 

The second frame started a bit more contested than the opener as CSUN took their first lead of the night, 5-4, before Chaz Galloway smashed a kill from the left side to tie things back at five each. The Matadors continued to charge, taking a three-point advantage, 9-6, thanks to a service error from Galloway and the efforts of Donovan Constable as both a passer and attacker. 

CSUN continued to groove, leading by four after an unsuccessful Hawai’i challenge attempt and rolling into the second frame’s media timeout leading the ‘Bows, 15-10. Though the ‘Bows fought to bring themselves within three a few times down the stretch run of the set, CSUN would not relinquish grip of the lead on the way to tying the match at a set win for each side. 

“I think the first two sets are a bit of a microcosm of where we’re at,” Wade reflected of his team’s early performance. “We can be really impressive, really productive, really efficient like in that 1st set and then the 2nd set, not so much. Credit to Northridge, they played well.” 

The night’s 3rd set mirrored that of the one prior to begin as the teams traded points to a 5-all tie before Hawai’i took a two-point advantage. The ‘Bows took a 10-7 lead after back-to-back errors from CSUN, forcing a Matadors’ timeout to give the visitors a chance to refocus amongst the loud crowd inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. 

The two teams traded points to the media timeout as Tread Rosenthal caught the Matadors by surprise with an attack on the second hit for Hawai’i, keeping the ‘Bows up three, 15-12. Following the stoppage, CSUN found another gear to knot the score at 17-all after an ace from Griffin Walters. 

Walters continued his strong night in the Stan with his 10th kill of the match giving a 22-21 lead to CSUN and forcing Charlie Wade to call for timeout to settle his team. The break in action worked to Hawai’i’s favor as UH scored three of the next four points to go back in front and position themselves for set point. 

After a few tries, Louis Sakanoko ended the frame and gave Hawai’i the two set to one lead with a rocket service ace on UH’s third set point try for an overtime win, 27-25. In all, 11 service errors in the 3rd set alone for CSUN doomed the visitors. 

The teams matched points to a 3-3 tie to start the 4th set before a successful challenge for Wade sparked a run for the Rainbow Warriors, padded by back-to-back blocks from Guilherme Voss, to go up by four. The advantage grew to six by the time the media timeout of the 4th set hit and up to double-digits following a Chaz Galloway-Kurt Nusterer combined block at the net to give Hawai’i a 21-11 lead.  

After Sakanoko racked up his 10th kill of the night to put the Rainbow Warriors on the cusp of victory, CSUN staved off the match ending for five more rallies before Voss finished the evening with his 10th kill for a 25-17 final win in the 4th frame, delivering the ‘Bows to their first victory in the post-Chakas injury world. 

Kyle Hobus led CSUN with a match-high 21 kills on 43 swings, adding five digs and an ace across four sets of action. Griffin Walters added 11 kills of his own to go with three service aces and a handful of digs in the loss for the Matadors. 

Alaka’i Todd led Hawai’i with 13 kills, his fifth consecutive match with double-digit putdowns and his 13th of the season overall. The senior was one of three ‘Bows to finish in double figures in kills as Sakanoko and Voss joined the outside hitter with 10 each.  

Voss was especially nasty at the net, tallying seven blocks to help stymie CSUN’s comeback tries. Sakanoko, the French freshman, continued to show off his tantalizing talent while displaying some of his youthful learning curve as he also finished with double-digit errors adding across attacks, serves and receptions but also was third amongst ‘Bows with seven digs with a team-best three aces. 

“You see some spectacular and some kind of cringey [play],” Wade said of the flying Frenchman. “That’s just where he’s at, you know? He’s a young player that is supremely talented and we’re seeing him get better day-by-day. You watch him, he really is – you see him not only do the really impressive, explosive things athletically that he can do but you’re seeing him modularly where he can recognize situations and gear down a little bit, whether it’s attacking or serving, and have it be effective.” 

The victory is the ninth consecutive for Hawai’i over CSUN, last falling to the Matadors back in March of 2018 on the mainland. The two teams will match up again Saturday evening for the second of the two-match series as the ‘Bows look to even their conference record and the Matadors continue searching for their first conference win of the year. 

The first serve for Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the Stan Sheriff Center. 

Hawai’i battles by UC Irvine in five sets for 11th OUTRIGGER Invitational crown

Hawai’i battles by UC Irvine in five sets for 11th OUTRIGGER Invitational crown

UH outside hitter Spyros Chakas walks to go serve the ball in a January home matchup. The senior left late in the ‘Bows 5-set win over UC Irvine Sunday night with an injury. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i battles by UC Irvine in five sets for 11th OUTRIGGER Invitational crown

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 10, 2024

HONOLULU – Another weekend, more incredible volleyball in the Stan. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors men’s volleyball team grabbed the 2024 OUTRIGGER Invitational title Sunday night, inching by #5 UC Irvine (13-6, 2-0 Big West) in five sets – (23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 17-25, 15-13). The victory pushed the ‘Bows current win streak to 16 games while delivering the 11th overall OUTRIGGER Invitational title in program history.

Hawai’i started out on the wrong foot, narrowly dropping the night’s opening set to the Anteaters as UH and UCI traded the lead five times and saw themselves knotted up 14 times during the first frame. Hawai’i hit just .310 to UCI’s .378 over the opening 48 points scored as they watched Anteaters’ French phenom Hilir Henno rack up a staggering 12 kills. 

Outside hitter Alaka’i Todd continued his incredible season with a quality second set, helping push the ‘Bows out to a healthy 15-12 lead midway through. Alongside Spyros Chakas, the duo helped spark Hawai’i to a convincing win in the frame and tie the match at one-all. 

In the third set, it was Keoni Thiim’s turn to take centerstage with a service run of seven points for Hawai’i after originally falling down to take the lead, 12-8. After UCI re-took the lead behind the heavy hand of Henno, it was UH’s turn to show off their French talent as freshman opposite/outside hitter Louis Sakanoko came off the bench to spark Hawai’i to a pivotal win in the set with an outstanding pancake dig and powerful kill to finish it, 25-22. 

For the third time in as many matches for UC Irvine, the Anteaters worked a match to a decisive fifth set as UCI raced out to a 12-2 lead on the way to a dominant fourth frame win by eight points – pushing the Rainbow Warriors to a do-or-die set for just the second time this season. 

Just as he did the first time the ‘Bows went to five this season, head coach Charlie Wade gave the opening serve to Thiim – changing the tides back in favor of Hawai’i as the sizzling server grabbed the first three points for the ‘Bows. 

“We did the exact same thing we did against [Loyola-Chicago] with Keoni starting as the first server and Spyros starting left front … The difference in the fifth set was Keoni’s first service turn,” Wade said of Hawai’i’s strategy for the final frame. 

Hawai’i looked to complete a hard-fought night on a high note, reaching the doorstep of victory at 14-10 before disaster struck for the ‘Bows. 

Spyros Chakas landed awkwardly on his left leg and remained on the ground for several moments after in pain before being carried off the floor by teammates. 

“Obviously we’ve got our fingers crossed in hoping that Spyros is OK,” Wade said of his star senior’s status. “They’ll get some imaging on [the left knee] and we’ll find out more here in the next 24 hours or so.” 

Wade’s team calmed itself enough to complete the win on the fourth “Aloha Ball” point chance as middle blocker Guilherme Voss powered the final kill of the night into center earth for the win, 15-13. 

UCI’s Henno finished with an obscene 36 kills – a career-high and national high mark for this season – in the loss for the Anteaters, tallying a trio of service aces for good measure. 

“[Henno]’s good, he scores in a variety of ways. He’s not just going up and banging it all the time and some of those tip and push and shoot it … I think I could set him out there *chuckle* air it out and let him go do his thing,” Hawai’i’s head coach said while praising the junior outside hitter for the Anteaters. 

Chakas led Hawai’i with 17 kills while chipping in eight digs before his injury. Alaka’i Todd racked up 13 kills while playing “Doorman” at the net with Kurt Nusterer as the two combined for 13 blocks.

The win for Hawai’i completes the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 16-1 record as focus shifts to Big West competition. The challenges only get bigger for the ‘Bows as they hit the road next week to take on pre-season conference favorites #2 Long Beach State in a two-match series. 

Hawai’i wipes out Stanford in front of packed “White-Out” crowd for Alumni Night

Hawai’i wipes out Stanford in front of packed “White-Out” crowd for Alumni Night

UH floor captain Spyros Chakas goes for a ball in a matchup against #5 Stanford. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i wipes out Stanford in front of packed White-Out” crowd for Alumni Night

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 9, 2024

HONOLULU — Who said sweeping white-outs was only for wintry weather? 

The University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team celebrated “Alumni Appreciation Night” in style, sweeping through the Stanford Cardinal in straight sets Saturday night, 27-25, 25-7, 25-20, in front of a season-high attendance of 8,930 screaming fans. Floor captain Spyros Chakas’ season-best 23 kills led the way as the UH attack dominated all evening to the tune of a hitting percentage of .594% while committing only three attack errors the entire night. 

The fifth-ranked Cardinal opened the match’s first frame by scoring three of the first four points of the night before seeing the ‘Bows re-find their footing to tie the set at five by notching four of the next six points. Much like the first match between the two on Thursday, neither side allowed for much breathing room as the teams traded point-for-point until a quick run pushed Hawai’i ahead by three, 13-10, and forced a Cardinal timeout. 

After Stanford knotted the match at 15, the tug-of-war, back-and-forth trading of points resumed as the ‘Bows and the Cardinal attempted to snatch the coveted first set point. Hawai’i got the chance first after a Chaz Galloway service ace but would need three set points in total to take the opening frame in extras, 27-25. 

For as closely contested as the first set was, the second frame was the exact opposite as the ‘Bows raced out to a 15-4 lead to go into the media timeout behind the amped-up Chakas and his 99th career ace, tying him with Naveh Milo for 10th-most in UH program history. After the stop in the action, Hawai’i held Stanford to just three more points en route to an impressive 25-7 win in the frame. 

Stanford tried to stave off the sweep with a quick start to the third set that mirrored the opening one, scoring three of the first four points before allowing Hawai’i to draw to a tie again. Once again, Hawai’i would jump ahead with both teams into double-digit points, 13-10, forcing a Cardinal timeout. The pause did not help matters much for the visitors as the UH lead grew to four points after a Tread Rosenthal kill and then again with a kill from Thursday’s star performer Alaka’i Todd making it 21-17. 

The ‘Bows would not play with their food, either. Hawai’i rattled off four of the next seven points to finish out the match with their third straight set win, 25-20. 

Everything was clicking for the Rainbow Warriors as Spyros Chakas set the tone with his 23 kills while Alaka’i Todd finished with nine kills on 15 swings. Freshman setter Tread Rosenthal tallied 33 assists throughout the match as he continued to spearhead a Hawai’i attack that leads the nation in efficiency. 

Hawai’i returns to action in 13 days when the Rainbow Warriors play host to Missouri S&T on back-to-back nights, looking to extend their nine-match winning streak to double figures. First serve for the first of the two matchups is scheduled for February 22 at 7 p.m. HT.