For UH-Hilo women’s soccer coach Gene Okamura, the fun didn’t stop until the Vulcans set a new standard.
Jaimie Salas and Hedda Bjerklund netted second-half goals Saturday, and UHH beat Fresno Pacific 2-1 to secure the the program’s highest win total since 2013 and its highest overall Pacific West Conference finish.
Asked his favorite part of a 10-4-1 season – the 2013 squad finished with a similar mark – Okamura couldn’t pick just one.
“So much personality and energy in this group, so it was so much fun to be around them all the time,” he said.
The Vuls won their third road game in row to finish the regular season, trying for second in the PacWest standings at 7-3-1.
Point Loma, the only PacWest team ranked in the West Region, secured the conference title, its third in five seasons, and an automatic NCAA D-II postseason berth last weekend.
In the 61st minute, Salas scored her team-best fifth goal, taking a pass in a crowded box from fellow senior Carlie Reader and pushing it to the left past Sunbird keeper Alex Benevidez.
Tori De Leon notched the equalizer for Fresno Pacific (7-10-1, and 7-4 PacWest), but Bjerklund scored her second goal of the season in the 84th minute after taking a pass from Danika Steele in the box.
Bailey Cahill made three saves for UHH, which held a 23-9 shots advantage and put nine shots on frame.
The Vuls will graduate 11 seniors – including leading point scorers Tiera Arakawa and Salas (10) – and are scheduled to return five starters for 2019.
“They had a lot determination this year and bought into the system and played the style we wanted all year,” Okamura said.
The picture wasn’t as rosy for the men, who fell 5-0 to powerful Fresno Pacific and were outscored 13-1 in their final two matches.
The Vulcans (4-12, 3-8 PacWest) didn’t put a shot goal and were outshot 32-5.
The Sunbirds (13-3-1, 9-2) finished in second place in the PacWest and appear to be in good postseason shape, entering ranked fourth in the West.
Under first-year coach Paul Regrutto, UHH doubled its win total from a year ago and its four win were the most since the 2014 squad went 7-9-2.
Senior outside hitter McKenna Granato became just the 20th Rainbow Wahine in program history to record 1,000th career kills as UH beat Long Beach State 19-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 on the road.
The Wahine (16-7, 12-2 Big West) are 2-0 on the trip, including a sweep against CSUN on Friday. They have a nonconference match at Pepperdine on Tuesday.