Hawai’i slowly finding way again, takes down UCSB in three sets

Hawai’i slowly finding way again, takes down UCSB in three sets

Chaz Galloway stares across the court in a match for Hawai’i; the senior led the Rainbow Warriors with 10 kills in a sweep against #20 UC Santa Barbara on March 29, 2024. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i slowly finding way again, takes down UCSB in three sets

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 29, 2024

HONOLULU – Play that sweet, sweep music. 

The 5th-ranked Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (19-4, 2-3 Big West) took down the 20th-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (7-15, 0-6 Big West) in straight sets Friday night in front of more than 6,000 people – (25-23, 25-21, 26-24). 

“We’re still a work-in-progress, there’s no doubt. We’re seeing glimpses of it and we are just going to keep grinding,” Hawai’i’s Charlie Wade said following the win.

Earlier in the week, Hawai’i dropped outside of the top 4 in the AVCA rankings poll for the first time since the final poll of the 2018 season following their weekend split with CSUN. After 91 consecutive weeks of men’s volleyball seasons passing with Hawai’i as one of the sport’s top quartet of competitors, Friday marked new waters for many Rainbow Warriors. 

The Gauchos looked to become the next program to snap a long losing streak against the ‘Bows as the teams traded the first 18 points of the night to a 9-9 score before Hawai’i finally was able to gain a multi-point lead with Guilherme Voss steady at the service line, 11-9. The visitors returned fire with three straight points – capped off by an ace from former UH setter Jack Walmer – to slither ahead, 12-11.  

The set returned to original form, trading points into the media timeout as Hawai’i led 15-14 after a triple block from Kurt Nusterer, Tread Rosenthal and Louis Sakanoko. The ‘Bows flew out of the timeout with back-to-back kills from Rosenthal and Alaka’i Todd for a three-point lead, but UCSB’s Geste Bianchi brought the Gauchos back within one with a mini-run of his own. 

Hawai’i came to the doorstep of a set one victory, 24-20, after Todd and Sakanoko pushed home a pair of kills, but the Gauchos made things interesting by staving off the first loss with three points in a row. The Rainbow Warriors escaped the opening set with a win on their fourth set point try as Chaz Galloway smashed his fourth kill of the evening. 

The ‘Bows, looking to build off their opening set win, grabbed the first two points of the 2nd set and continued building to a 7-4 lead with Todd and Nusterer continuing to keep “Mānoa Roofing Company” open on Good Friday, forcing a timeout from UC Santa Barbara.  

The lead grew to four after Rosenthal dunked one down on the second hit and Voss (after a review) won a joust at the net to give Hawai’i the 12-to-8 advantage. The ‘Bows would carry that same four-point margin into the media timeout after Galloway floated his seventh kill of the evening over a Gauchos’ block attempt.

With the help of some Hawai’i miscommunications and more service aces, UCSB tied the 2nd set at 16-16 and forced a timeout from head coach Charlie Wade. The break in the action did wonders for the ‘Bows as UH rattled off four of the next five points to take a 20-17 lead and flip the tide to force a timeout from the visiting Gauchos. 

Hawai’i powered through the final five points it needed, capped by a Nusterer punch, to take a commanding two sets to none lead over the Gauchos taking the frame, 25-21. 

The Rainbow Warriors raced out to a quick three-point lead in the 3rd set with four of the first five points, hoping to send the six thousand screaming fans home pleased and early on a Friday. They continued that dream by maintaining a healthy distance with UCSB before heading into the media timeout with a 15-13 lead. 

The 5th-ranked team in the nation continued to roll, pushing the advantage to five with more steady play after the stoppage, 20-15. The Gauchos used back-to-back aces from Owen Loncar to pull back within two and force a timeout from Hawai’i and rode the wave of momentum to knot things at 24 and send the 3rd set into a very brief pair of overtime points. 

Hawai’i took care of business after a service error from the Gauchos set up match point for the Rainbow Warriors and a Sakanoko second-chance kill finished the night on a high note as UH swept the ‘Chos in straight sets. 

“You know, I thought it was good, not great [tonight],” UH head coach Charlie Wade said postgame, referencing the number of self-inflicted errors the ‘Bows continue to allow. “We make nine errors in the first set – which is under where we had ballooned up to – and then we end up with [33 errors] in three sets so you’re still back to [11 errors averaged per set] and I think we’re better than that.”

UC Santa Barbara standout Geste Bianchi led all participants with a match-high 17 kills on 39 swings for the Gauchos. Ben Coordt and Patrick Kane added seven kills apiece for the visitors as they dropped their 17th consecutive meeting with Hawai’i in men’s volleyball. 

Chaz Galloway recorded his 25th career double-digit kill match, posting 10 kills to lead UH while adding four digs in his second-to-last regular season home appearance. Sakanoko and Voss each chipped in nine kills each and were particularly vicious at the net throughout the night. 

Four different ‘Bows had six or more digs on the night as well as Hawai’i’s hustle defense helped them get back on track after a rather stunning loss to CSUN last Saturday. While it was not a normal Alaka’i Todd game for kills, the 6th-year senior made sure to make his presence felt all night anyway with six kills, seven digs and a block to push UH back on the line of .500 in Big West play.

“[Alaka’i] has, for this team and in this moment in time, evolved into a veteran guy that we need a good performance from every night,” Wade said of his outside hitter’s all-around contributions.

The teams meet again Saturday evening for Hawai’i’s “Senior Night” as the ‘Bows honor six players in the team’s final home match of the regular season. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with senior night proceedings following the contest. With a win, Hawai’i would clinch the program’s third straight 20-plus win season and 13th in program history while keeping the Gauchos winless in conference action this season. 

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 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. 

Sloppy ‘Bows: Hawai’i falls to #10 Loyola-Chicago in heart-breaking home loss

Sloppy ‘Bows: Hawai’i falls to #10 Loyola-Chicago in heart-breaking home loss

Sloppy ‘Bows: Hawai’i falls to #10 Loyola-Chicago in heart-breaking home loss

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 5, 2024

HONOLULU — The third-ranked Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors men’s volleyball team (1-1) fell at the hands of the tenth-ranked Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (1-1) in five sets Friday night — 25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 13-15 — for the earliest loss under Charlie Wade since 2013. 

Hawai’i worked quickly in the night’s opening frame, jumping out to an early 11-6 lead behind a strong start from sophomore Kurt Nusterer both at the net and behind the service line. The ‘Bows were the first to reach 15 points in the night’s debut set after head coach Charlie Wade challenged an inbounds call and saw the point overturned to push the match into a media timeout with his team leading, 15-11. Hawai’i continued its strong play behind freshman Tread Rosenthal’s all-around game showing itself to fans unfamiliar with the 17-year-old’s game, taking the night’s first set, 25-18, with the help of Rosenthal’s 13 assists. 

Loyola-Chicago fought back in the second set of the evening, taking a five-point lead midway through the frame to subdue the ‘Bows and the crowd at hand, 12-7, and keeping it quiet until Hawai’i’s furious comeback attempt late when UH cut the lead to two multiple times with a 25-22 decision over the hosting Rainbow Warriors. 

Hawai’i responded in expected fashion: a dominant showing in the third set, led by Rosenthal’s continued and rapid development at the service line and couple of aces to make quick work of the Ramblers, 25-18. 

The evening’s fourth set began similar to the third as the teams traded points to 10 before Loyola-Chicago took control of the frame with a 9-2 run. Hawai’i would bring it within one, 24-23, before ultimately succumbing to the Ramblers in the set, 25-23, and go to a decisive fifth frame.  

After a lively crowd finished singing their rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin” – both teams took to the court for a winner-take-all final set. Just as they had all night, the teams opened the frame trading points before Hawai’i forced a Ramblers’ timeout with a 4-1 run, giving the hometown team a 10-7 lead after an Alaka’i Todd ace. 

Hawai’i would take a five-point lead, 12-7, following the timeout but would be held to just one point the rest of the way as the Ramblers came roaring back to take the fifth set, 15-13, and hand Hawai’i its earliest non-exhibition loss under Charlie Wade since 2013. 

The ‘Bows return to action next Wednesday when they host Emmanuel for a two-game series inside the Stan Sheriff Center, looking to bounce back from a sloppy Friday night that saw 27 service errors across the five sets. 

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL LASQUERO

Hawai’i wins 11th consecutive season-opener with sweep over #10 Loyola-Chicago

Hawai’i wins 11th consecutive season-opener with sweep over #10 Loyola-Chicago

Hawai’i wins 11th consecutive season-opener with sweep over #10 Loyola-Chicago

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 3, 2024

HONOLULU — How sweep it is. 

After falling in the national title match to UCLA last season and seeing the graduation of all-time program great and AVCA national player of the year Jakob Thelle — among multiple other key graduations — and the loss of AVCA 1st-team All-American outside hitter Dimitrios Mouchlias to the professional ranks, many may have looked to 2024 for a step back from ‘Bows head coach Charlie Wade’s squad.  

To be fair, they needed to reload with younger, less experienced faces joining a trio of returning starters in middle blocker Guilherme Voss, outside hitter Chaz Galloway and outside hitter/opposite Spyros Chakas. 

Just don’t tell Hawai’i that they need to take a year to reload and incorporate a new group. Expectations entering Wednesday were still sky-high from within. 

When it was time for rubber to hit the road, Hawai’i was ready to go.  

The #3 Hawai’i men’s volleyball team dispatched #10 Loyola-Chicago in straight sets Wednesday night, taking the frames in succession — 25-23, 25-19 and 25-20. 

UH’s floor-captain in Chakas got the new year of ‘Bows volleyball started with a scorcher of a kill set up by 17-year-old setter Tread Rosenthal for the match’s first point. Wade has long been excited to get the Team USA U19 member to Mānoa and the six-foot-eight top recruit might’ve been just as hyped to join the Mānoa maniacs of volleyball — joining the program a year earlier than initially expected to play alongside players like Galloway and Chakas. 

He joins the program at a perfect time as well for a changing of the guard at the setter position, replacing the aforementioned Thelle. While it wasn’t a perfect night one, his calm demeanor from the first serve gained praise from his head coach. 

“He’s going to be very good, and he does a lot of really good stuff out there [already],” Wade said of his prized recruit. “The first time I ever saw him play [in high school] … I’m like ‘That guy [will play] in three Olympics for [Team USA]’ — like that is a unique talent.” 

Hawai’i pushed it to a 5-3 lead early with local boy and Punahou alum Alaka’i Todd’s first kill of the season. Tenth-ranked Loyola-Chicago roared back to tie it at seven with an ace from Nicodemus Meyer and Parker Van Buren gave the Ramblers their first lead of the evening on the rally following, 8-7. 

The visiting Ramblers entered the midway media timeout as the first team to 15 after an attack error by Todd went into the net, but Hawai’i responded to tie the game at 16 with a Chaz Galloway ace that nicked the top of the net and rolled to the hardwood. The two squads traded points to a 21-all tie before the ‘Bows took a 22-21 lead on net violation and forced Loyola-Chicago to call timeout.  

A quick second Ramblers timeout of the premier set was called for after Hawai’i took its first multi-point lead since being up 12-10 midway through the set. An effort to extend the frame into extra points for Loyola-Chicago ended up finishing short as the defending Big West champions took the evening’s first set, 25-23, on a Ramblers’ service error. 

The night’s second set opened with the Ramblers scoring the first point before the ‘Bows would answer back with the next two. Hawai’i would grab control of the frame quickly, putting together a run on the vertical leap of Chakas and Galloway and the hustle of Todd and libero ‘Eleu Choy for an 8-4 lead. The ‘Bows continued to keep Loyola-Chicago at arms’ length as the set moved to middle of the action, 15-10.  

The Rainbow Warriors only saw the lead grow after media timeout, stringing together three straight points to make it an eight-point lead and force a Ramblers’ timeout. Loyola-Chicago fought back following the stoppage, slicing the deficit to four a few times before finally succumbing to UH in the set after a net violation was called on the ‘Bows but a challenge got the call overturned — giving a 25-19 win and 2-0 set lead to the third-ranked team in the nation. 

Loyola-Chicago made it seem as though set three would be the start of a momentum shift after an early 5-5 tie turned into a 9-5 Ramblers’ lead, thanks to a 4-0 run from the visitors. The scoring burst forced a timeout from UH’s Wade, but the pause didn’t seem to stop the Ramblers from rolling. The strong third frame continued all the way through to the media timeout for Loyola-Chicago, sitting pretty with a 15-7 lead in hand.  

That’s when Hawai’i woke back up. 

Following the stoppage, the battle-tested ‘Bows responded with a 3-0 run behind another mean Chakas kill and a beautiful service ace from specialist Keoni Thiim to make it 15-10 and force a Ramblers’ timeout. Loyola-Chicago stopped the bleeding momentarily with two points before the freshman phenom Rosenthal helped sponsor an avalanche of Hawai’i points to make it just a two-point deficit for the ‘Bows, 17-15, and force another timeout from Loyola-Chicago second-year head coach John Hawks. 

It didn’t matter. 

UH would continue the offensive onslaught, taking the lead, 18-17, with another quick three-point spurt after the Loyola timeout. Hawai’i’s Wade made it a two-for-two night on challenges, getting the officials to reverse a call that originally had a UH block going out overturned to make it a two-point advantage for the ‘Bows.  

Much like last season, Hawai’i turned up the heat when it was winning time with different faces than the previous year’s squad. It was the electric Thiim with a pair of high-flying kills to start to push Hawai’i over the top, giving the ‘Bows a 22-19 lead before UH closed the match out allowing just one more point to the Ramblers. 

Hawai’i hit .256 on the night but had a .932 service percentage, totaling just five service errors all evening. 

“We served well,” UH’s Wade said in his postgame press conference. “We served in-bounds at … 93 percent. When we serve in-bounds at 90 percent or higher as a team, we win 100 percent of the time. There’s never been a match that we have served like this and not won.” 

Farrington alum and new fan-favorite ‘Eleu Choy made his sixth career start, flying all over the court to post a match-high 15 digs — seven of which came in the night’s opening set. Choy’s impact and joy was infectious as the match went on as the libero set a new career-best mark in digs. 

“Stoked for ‘Eleu,” Wade said postgame of the OIA alum taking over for AVCA All-America honorable mention Brett Sheward. “He ended up with 15 digs in three sets? You get around three, you’ll lead the country in digs per set.” 

(For those who don’t like math — Choy finished with an average of five digs per set in the season opener.) 

Chakas finished the night with 16 kills, his 37th career match finishing with double-digit kills, while getting his hands dirty at the net with a trio of blocks. Tread Rosenthal completed his collegiate debut with 32 assists across three sets, playing nearly every rally throughout the night after reserve setter Kevin Kauling injured his ankle in pre-game warmups. The true freshman also did not commit a service error throughout 21 attempts during the evening and chipped in a pair of aces as a key component of the ‘Bows third set comeback. 

Hawai’i and #10 Loyola-Chicago will play again on Friday, January 6 with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. HT as the Rainbow Warriors look for their seventh straight match win over the Ramblers.