The University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team extended its win streak to 13 when it toppled UCLA in five last night. The current No. 1-ranked team in the AVCA Poll hasnt lost since February 6, when it dropped a five-setter to USC, and yesterday the Warriors earned their third-straight No. 1 ranking in the poll.
A solid group of junior and senior attackers (and sophomore outside hitter Kupono Fey who has contributed 135 kills this season) with sophomore setter Jennings Franciskovic directing traffic, has propelled the Rainbow Warriors to their first 20-win season since 2006. Redshirt senior Taylor Averill leads the nation with a .502 hitting percentage, while his 1.36 blocks per set ranks him fourth in the nation and first on the Hawaii squad. Senior opposite Brook Sedore of Canada leads the team with 280 kills and 35 aces. As a team, the Warriors rank fourth in the nation in kills per set and fifth in hitting percentage.
Yesterday’s win over UCLA guaranteed a home match for Hawaii in the MPSF quarterfinals, to be played April 25. The five-set match against the Bruins in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion was a battle for the Warriors, who were forced to fight back from down two sets to none, and they hope for an easier victory tonight when they face UCLA a second time. The Bruins, however, will be looking for redemption and fighting for a spot in the postseason, as they are currently ranked eighth in the MPSF. After their stint in LA, the Warriors will head up to Stanford before closing out the season with two matches against BYU.
Perhaps the Warriors have something to prove after the University of Hawaii athletic department announced that the men’s volleyball program was one of the teams it has considered cutting as part of a debt-reduction push. Or perhaps the team is just looking for a chance to earn a national championship before Averill, Sedore, and the team’s five other seniors graduate. No matter the motivation, the team is certainly out to make a statement.