Volleyball: With Sauni setting the way, Vuls hit on all cylinders in sweep

  • RICK OGATA photo
    UH-Hilo senior setter Basia Sauni posted 28 assist and 16 digs Monday as the Vuls beat Notre Dame de Namur 25-14, 25-17, 25-15.
  • RICK OGATA photo
    Bria Beale extends to dig a ball Monday Night at UHH gym.

Editor’s note: This story has been modified to correct the misspelling of a name.

When it comes to running UHH’s offense, Basia Sauni has the keys to the red-and-white car, which continues to look fast and smooth on the volleyball court.

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The senior setter posted a double-double (28 assist and 16 digs) to spark the Vulcans over Notre Dame de Namur in a 25-14, 25-17, 25-15 PacWest win on Monday night at the UHH Gym.

Bria Beale had 12 kills and hit .321 to lead the well-balanced Vulcans (6-2, 2-0 PacWest), who finished with a .300 hitting clip and outblocked NDNU, 10-2.

The Argonauts (1-10, 0-3) had a tough time figuring out who to block or where to hedge.

That’s because Beale slammed balls from the left, opposite Evelin Solyomvari (10 kills, .259) knocked down balls from the right, and Kiley Davis (nine kills, .353) worked the middle to diversify the attack.

Also on Monday, UHH freshman setter Maile Powell was named PacWest Freshman of the Week, after four aces and 19 assists in a sweep over Dominican on Saturday.

Sauni will likely be a strong candidate for PacWest player of the week honors. She had her double-double by the second set. In UHH’s 6-2 offense, she plays part-time, sharing the court with Powell, who finished with 15 assists.

To add even more firepower, Ashton Jessee (four kills, .571, six blocks) was also a threat in the middle, and freshman Alexandria Parisian (seven kills, .353) was a force on the right side.

Chantal Zahrndt had six kills and hit .080 to lead the Argonauts, who finished with a .057 hitting percentage, and one reason for the low rate was the ground coverage from UHH libero Mina Grant, who picked up 16 digs.

The Argonauts made sideouts just 47 percent of the time, compared to UHH’s 76 percent. The visitors just couldn’t stop the Vulcans from hopping on scoring runs.

Sauni fed her hitters one-on-one swings for most of the night because UHH’s ball-control was so crisp. She rarely had to run past the 10-foot line to field a set. She ran a lot of quick sets, and coach Gene Krieger sat back and nodded in approval.

“She’s a senior and a junior college All-American (Scottsdale College), and we just give her the keys to the car. I don’t call a lot of plays. If anything, I’ll just say, “Set a little higher.’ We tell her to look at the defense and do what you think is best.”

In the first set, Beale, Davis, and Ashton came out red-hot, each hitting .600. Despite the onslaught, the Argonauts refused to get rolled over and tied the Vulcans 7-7.

But from there, the Argos had difficulty getting sideouts, and UHH outscored them 18-7 down the stretch.

In Game 2, Beale, a UC Irvine transfer, made a couple of shots that showed why she fits the profile of a Division I hitter, despite standing 5 feet 11. The Argos were playing a deep perimeter defense against her, and on one attack she soared, saw the opening and hit soft push shot for a 22-14 lead.

Earlier, Beale hit a back-row roll shot that also fell perfectly to the floor. She’s also got a nifty tool shot that tumbles off a blocker’s hands and a precise deep-corner shot in her pocket.

“She can do everything,” Krieger said of his six-rotation player, who also had five digs and two blocks.

Then the second-year coach displayed his self-deprecating sense of humor.

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“We’ve got a good thing going if I don’t screw this up,” he said.

The Vulcans play Concordia (2-8) next Monday to start a four-game road trip.