The UH-Hilo volleyball team schemed well, executed and had standout performances from freshman outside hitter Teisa Tuioti and junior middle blocker Armani Moultrie against Hawaii Pacific, which kept hanging around.
The Vulcans wanted to attack Sharks setter Mahea Pescaia, who stands just 5 feet 7, and that game plan worked and led to a 25-22 25-22, 12-25, 25-17 win on Sunday night at the UHH Gym.
Tuioti displayed a mix bag of shots (hard angle, tool, and roll shots), knocked down 11 kills on a team-high 39 swings and hit .231 while Moultrie put up All-American numbers: 10 kills, zero errors 16 attacks, and a .625 hitting clip.
UHH also had spectacular defensive performances from libero Kaila Lizama (match-high 28 digs), Bria Beale (13 digs), and Maile Powell (12 digs). The Vuls also outblocked the Sharks, 9-8.
Ashton Jessee added nine kills, and Alex Parisian had eight kills for the Vulcans (12-4, 8-2 PacWest), who hit .169 and use a two-setter system with Basia Sauni and Maile Powell; there are always three hitters and a big block in the front row.
Cameryn Collie had 14 kills, Nicole Ferris 12, and Carson Pyle added 11 kills and hit .500 for the Sharks (5-11, 4-6), who finished with a .172 hitting clip.
“Obviously, Armani did great. She was hurt for the first month and didn’t go on our first road trip,” UHH coach Gene Krieger said. “She’s just now getting into playing shape. She played great, and we needed it.
“Our freshman (Tuioti) led us with 39 attempts. We knew HPU had a tough defense. We would hit, and they would dig it. She had a solid performance for a freshman against a good defense.”
In the 25-22 first set, UHH had a 77 percent sideout rate while HPU was at 68 percent, which meant there weren’t a lot of long scoring runs. The Vuls had one four-point run and a three-point run; the Sharks had just one three-point run.
The Vulcans scored four straight to jump ahead 10-7, a lead they never lost. HPU had a service error, two hitting errors, and Sauni dropped an ace.
Moultrie started in place of Kiley Davis (injured ankle) and provided a spark with five kills and hit .833. Tuioti added four kills, including game point.
In the 25-22 second set, it got interesting late with both teams trading scoring runs. UHH scored five straight to jump ahead 20-16. HPU got a sideout but hurt itself with a service error, then a hitting error and got aced.
UHH had a service error, but Tuioti hit a cut shot off HPU’s block for a 24-18 lead, but the Sharks roared back with a four-point spree to get within 24-22.
Tuioti hit a well-placed deep shot that caught the back line for game point.
The Vuls displayed their depth to take a 2-0 lead. When someone struggled, others stepped up to get points on the board.
Evelin Solyomvari, UHH’s big gun on the right side, couldn’t find her rhythm. She had two kills and hit negative .083 through two sets and finished with four kills and hit negative .115. Beale, the other top shotmaker, had six kills and hit .067.
But Jessee knocked down four kills while Tuioti and Parisian had three kills each, the type of balance that’s become UHH’s trademark.
But in the 25-12 third set, it wasn’t close at all. HPU scored 10 consecutive points to seize a 23-10 cushion, which included three aces by Pyle.
The Vuls struggled mightily to stop and score points. They had a 25 percent sideout rate and an ugly negative .107 hitting clip with just four kills and seven hitting miscues.
A service error canceled that point spree, and UHH recorded a block, but Collie put down a kill, and a UHH hitting error closed Game 3.
UHH bounced back in a big way in the fourth set with a .245 hitting clip and a match-high 83 percent sideout rate.
“I’m almost glad it went to a fourth set,” Krieger said. “I think we relaxed and thought it was over in the third set. But we focused, and that was our word for the day.”
Of the three Hawaii schools, Chaminade has emerged as the best of the bunch, so far. The Silverswords have three hitters in the Top 10 for most kills per set and have defeated UHH and HPU in the first round.
In two key PacWest showdowns, second-place UHH plays second-place Biola on Friday and sixth-place Concordia on Sunday to close a six-match homestand.