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. 

Cardinal Sins: Three Takeaways from Hawai’i Football’s Week 1 loss to Stanford

Cardinal Sins: Three Takeaways from Hawai’i Football’s Week 1 loss to Stanford

Cardinal Sins: Three Takeaways from Hawai’i Football’s Week 1 loss to Stanford 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED SEP 4, 2023

HONOLULU – The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors fell for the second time in as many games this past Friday, dropping their home opener to the Stanford Cardinal, 37-24. 

Much like the first game of the season for Timmy Chang’s squad, there were many positives to take away from the matchup against Troy Taylor’s team. Unfortunately for the ‘Bows, many of the same issues also persisted through Week 1’s loss after showing themselves against Vanderbilt. 

Without further ado, here are three takeaways from Friday night’s loss to Stanford before Hawai’i prepares to host the Albany Great Danes for Week 2.  


1. The defense is better than last year but needs to start making splash plays. 

Look all around the Hawai’i defense and you will see the new and returning pieces on that side of the ball for defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro and crew. From star defensive back transfer Cam Stone to true freshman corner Elijah Palmer, the newcomers made their presence known all throughout the ‘Bows home opener. 

For some reason, Stanford continued to test the pre-season All-Mountain West honoree Stone through the air. He answered the challenge across 24 coverage snaps, allowing just one reception for nine yards while being targeted five times. Stone finished as the top-graded ‘Bows defender in coverage by PFF, finishing the night with a 71.6 coverage grade and as the 2nd-best overall graded defender for Hawai’i (only behind defensive lineman Jonah Kahahawai-Welch) on the night with a 72.9 overall rating. 

Finishing right behind the senior Stone was freshman Elijah Palmer, a 2023 graduate of Bishop Gorman in Nevada. The Hawai’i staff has been incredibly excited for the newfound pipeline that has been created between the national football prep powerhouse and the ‘Bows program since LB coach Chris Brown left the Gaels and joined UH. Palmer showed why on Friday, earning the 2nd-best PFF coverage grade of all Hawai’i defenders with a 68.8 grade in his first career start for the ‘Bows. The nickel corner was all over the field, totaling seven tackles in the loss – good for 2nd-most among UH defenders. 

It wasn’t all peachy-clean for the ‘Bows. Stanford TE Benjamin Yurosek dominated all night to the tune of a game-high nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown catch as Hawai’i defenders struggled to wrap up Stanford players all night (11 missed tackles in total according to PFF). 

On top of the struggles to finish plays, it was the second straight week the defense failed to produce an interception or fumble. With an aggressive offense in Chang’s Run-N-Shoot, turnovers are incredibly important to maximize opportunities. Not only were the ‘Bows struggling to get hands on the ball on defense but also struggled getting hands on the quarterback as well. Stanford sophomore QB Ashton Daniels was not sacked a single time Friday night, whereas Hawai’i’s Brayden Schager was taken down six times behind the line of scrimmage. 

Without pressure in his face, Daniels was able to dice up the UH defense in his first start for new head coach Troy Taylor. 

If the ‘Bows are to pull off upsets against bigger programs, it is imperative the defense begins producing turnovers and gets after the quarterback. 

2. Penalties continue raining on the ‘Bows parade 

Undisciplined play is a coach’s nightmare. 

Timmy Chang’s crew struggled with the amount of penalty yardage they gave up in Week 0 to Vanderbilt (7 for 59 yards against Commodores) before nearly doubling that negative output in Week 1 versus Stanford by being flagged 11 times to give the Cardinal 114 free penalty yards. 

Not only did they hand out over a full field’s worth of free yardage, but many penalties also came at inopportune times for the ‘Bows by extending offensive drives for Stanford. The visitors scored 20 points on drives that the UH defense was called for a penalty, including a back-breaking roughing the passer on third down with the Cardinal backed up and Hawai’i within two scores and more than 12 minutes left. 

Add in a pair of targeting penalties that resulted in immediate ejections for a pair of ‘Bows defensive starters and the errors became too much for the team to overcome. 

The defense of the ‘Bows was not the only culprit of sloppy play. The offense and special teams each had blunders that backed up the team just as momentum began to mount for Hawai’i. After falling behind in the first half, 14-7, a holding penalty backed up the offense for a 2nd down needing 20 yards to move the chains. A punt was the result, quickly giving the ball back to Stanford for another touchdown drive to go ahead two scores with less than five minutes left in the second quarter. 

If the ‘Bows want to compete for a bowl this season, the undisciplined penalties need to end rapidly. Albany, who held Marshall scoreless in the first half in Week 0, comes to the island looking for an upset of a program still searching for their first tally in the win column for 2023 and hopes the trend of Hawai’i hurting itself on the football field continues. 

3. Pofele Ashlock will challenge for an All-Mountain West selection by season’s end. 

Gross amounts of negativity to start these takeaways for a team who had lots to smile about following the first two outings of the year. While the Rainbow Warriors sit at 0-2 after two games, junior QB Brayden Schager leads the nation in passing yards with back-to-back career high games, totaling 706 yards to go along with six touchdown tosses to only two interceptions. The return to the Run-N-Shoot has resulted in a pair of games with three or more touchdowns to begin the season, something Hawai’i didn’t accomplish until five games into 2022. 

The biggest of all the positives though must be redshirt freshman wide receiver Pofele Ashlock. 

The 6-foot-1 pass catcher is the first freshman in ‘Bows program history to start their career with back-to-back 100+ yard receiving games and has now been honored twice as the Mountain West Freshman of the Week winner. He gave the world a taste of what could be expected going forward against Vanderbilt, demonstrating a high level of chemistry from fellow Texan Brayden Schager with seven catches for 127 yards and a score in his debut.  

He helped the ‘Bows pick up six first downs himself against Stanford, adding in a pair of touchdowns as he busts onto the college stage. After two games, the wideout leads the team with 15 catches, 241 yards and three scores. He also has been a yards-after-the-catch machine to start the year with 60 yards coming from the creativity of his feet after the reception. 

Ashlock’s 241 yards puts him atop all college wide receivers after Week 1, while his three touchdowns are tied with teammate Steven McBride for third-most in the nation for the season. He also has the most first downs among wideouts with 11 different receptions that have moved the chains so far for Hawai’i this season. 

In an offense with many strong and reliable weapons (and a quarterback that does a nice job spreading the ball around), Ashlock has distinguished himself ahead of the others as a go-to for Schager through two weeks. While McBride has produced, alongside Alex Perry and Koali Nishigaya, Ashlock continues to present issues for opposing defenses trying to shut down the Texas-connection between the WR and QB. The redshirt freshman is a star in the making, so it’s a good thing he’s been watching and talking to some other ‘Bows WR greats. 

Hawai’i drops home-opener, 37-24, as Stanford capitalizes on critical ‘Bows blunders

Hawai’i drops home-opener, 37-24, as Stanford capitalizes on critical ‘Bows blunders

Hawai’i drops home-opener, 37-24, as Stanford capitalizes on critical ‘Bows blunders 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED SEP 3, 2023

HONOLULU – The first game in the revamped Clarence T.C. Ching Complex for the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors football team saw a sea of 12,547 fans asked to don white for the home-opener, led by the newly-old-new named student section called the “Bowzos”, bring the energy from way before the game deep into the night.

The ‘Bows (0-2) fell on Friday night to the visiting Stanford Cardinal (1-0), 37-24, as Hawai’i’s mistakes during inopportune times proved costly. Hawai’i was penalized 11 times for 114 yards throughout the night. While Stanford did not play clean football either (nine penalties for 81 yards against the Cardinal), Hawai’i gift-wrapped six first downs via penalty to Troy Taylor’s team throughout the evening, extending drives that looked like the ‘Bows defense had gotten off the field for. 

Both offenses started the night slowly, as the first three possessions of the game ended in nearly identical fashion – 3-&-outs – before Stanford engineered a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped off by an E.J. Smith one-yard touchdown run to open a 7-0 lead. 

Hawai’i’s offense finally started to power up on their fourth possession of the game, as junior QB Brayden Schager connected with six different receivers along an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that oozed into the start of the second quarter. Reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Week WR Pofele Ashlock continued his hot start to the season, closing the drive with a 7-yard TD hookup from Schager to tie it, 7-7, with 14:11 left in the first half.

Stanford quickly struck back on the shoulders of All-Pac-12 2nd-team TE Benjamin Yurosek, who caught three balls for 74 yards and a touchdown during the 5-play, 75-yard scoring drive that pushed the Cardinal back ahead, 14-7. Yurosek, a senior, continued to dominate all game as the ‘Bows saw a pair of key starters on defense get ejected for targeting throughout the night. 

One of those targeting ejections came in the red zone on the next offensive possession for Stanford, as ‘Bows safety Meki Pei was flagged late after a hit on Cardinal sophomore QB Ashton Daniels. Set up on the Hawai’i 5-yard line, the ‘Bows defense held strong for two plays before Bryce Farrell rushed it in from two yards out to put Stanford ahead by two touchdowns with 4:25 left in the second quarter. 

Hawai’i was able to chip on a field goal as time expired in the opening half, thanks to the heads-up play and quick reaction time of junior WR Karsyn Pupunu, who came up with a tipped ‘Schager Bomb’ at the Stanford 15-yard line with under 15 seconds to play in the half. The ‘Bows took a shot at the end zone, looking for a 6-foot-5 Alex Perry that ran out of room on the sideline due to quality coverage.  

Hawai’i kicker Matthew Shipley split the uprights as the clock hit zeroes to make it 21-10 as the teams went to the locker rooms. With the make, Shipley moved into a tie for fourth all-time in ‘Bows program history with his 43rd made field goal and sits two makes behind third-most. 

Stanford opened the second half with the ball and used senior RB Casey Filkins’ 47-yard scamper to quickly threaten in the red zone, already up two scores. Hawai’i’s defense hunkered down from there, shutting down three straight runs by the Cardinal to force a field goal and keep it within two touchdowns, 24-10. 

Hawai’i looked as though they would answer back, driving all the way down to the Stanford 10-yard line before the offense stalled. Head coach Timmy Chang continued to be aggressive on fourth down, but the Stanford defensive line got home to sack Schager and the ‘Bows would turn it over on downs without any points to show for a drive that took three minutes off the clock. 

Again, it was Yurosek, as the tight end jumpstarted the Cardinal offensive possession with two straight catches totaling 25 yards to push to the Stanford 42-yard line. After Stanford drove inside the Hawai’i 30, the ‘Bows defense forced an incompletion on third down that looked to get them off the field before a flag that Chang called “hard luck” was thrown on linebacker Isaiah Tufaga for targeting. 

Not only did the penalty end Tufaga’s night, but it also extended the Stanford drive long enough to add on three more points and make it a three-possession game with under 17 minutes left for the ‘Bows to mount a comeback. 

That urgency manifested itself with four straight gains to end the third quarter for the Rainbow Warriors, as Steven McBride finally got his first catch of the night for seven yards before Tylan Hines broke off a positive run for a first down. Then it was Ashlock again for 28 yards before Schager hit Alex Perry for an 11-yard completion to end the period and give the ‘Bows a fresh set of downs to start the fourth at the Stanford 24-yard line. 

Like the second quarter, Hawai’i would strike quickly into the new period as Schager connected with McBride on a fantastic catch by the senior wideout for a 24-yard touchdown. The ‘Bows went for two but failed, still trailing 27-16 with 14:52 left to play. 

The Hawai’i defense once again looked like they had forced a fourth-down decision for Troy Taylor after three plays, but a roughing the passer penalty on third-and-15 that was tacked onto a 12-yard completion gave new life to the drive. Stanford would go down and kick their third field goal of the half to extend the lead to 30-16 with 9:09 remaining. 

Feeling the pressure, the ‘Bows began to work quickly once again. Working short, Hawai’i picked up a pair of first downs to push just before midfield. Two drops and two heavy pressures (one on fourth down that turned into a sack) ended the possession and turned the ball over on downs at the Hawai’i 31-yard line.  

Stanford provided the knockout punch three plays later, as Daniels found senior WR John Humphreys in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard score to make it 37-16 with just 5:22 left. 

The ‘Bows would pick themselves up off the mat once again though, piecing together a 15-play, 64-yard scoring drive ending with Ashlock’s second TD catch of the night and third of the season. The connection between the junior QB and redshirt freshman WR continues to show positive momentum heading into next week and beyond. 

Reserve QB Dalen Morris came in for the two-point conversion try and was successful for the second time in as many games in short-yardage goal-line situations, cutting it to 37-24 with 68 seconds remaining. 

The ensuing onside kick would go out of bounds and the Cardinal would kneel twice to run down the clock. Daniels finished the night going 25-for-36 passing the ball for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns while scrambling for 42 yards on the ground. Casey Filkins led the rushing attack for Stanford, going for 67 yards on just six carries. Yurosek finished with nine catches for 138 yards himself, tearing up the middle of the ‘Bows defense. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinal defense racked up six sacks on the night, led by sophomore OLB David Bailey, who had three by himself. 

Stanford travels to #6 USC next week, taking on Heisman-hopeful QB Caleb Williams and the Trojans in a matchup of Pac-12 schools leaving the conference. USC will join the Big 10 following this season, whereas Stanford was offered membership to the ACC following this year. 

Hawai’i QB Brayden Schager set multiple career highs for the second consecutive game, throwing for 355 yards and 30 completions across 53 attempts. He also matched a career-best three TD passes as he cleaned up turnovers with no interceptions or fumbles all night.  

Ashlock led the receiving attack for the second straight week, going for 114 yards and two scores on just eight catches as he continued his star-turn to start the year. Junior wideout Koali Nishigaya set new career-highs with six catches for 52 yards as he continues to see increased action in the Run-N-Shoot. The former Saint Louis Crusaders standout is having a good 2023, as the former walk-on worked his way onto scholarship this offseason. 

For the second consecutive week, the ‘Bows struggled to get the rushing attack going after it was the team’s “bread-and-butter” in 2022. The defense also was unable to force a turnover again while the team struggled to get pressure against the Stanford line. 

Hawai’i is back in action at home next Saturday at 6 p.m. HST, hosting Albany (1-1) for the first meeting ever between the two programs. The Great Danes fell to Marshall in Week 1, 21-17, giving up three second-half touchdowns after holding the Thundering Herd scoreless in the opening half.