UH-Hilo’s winning streak stretched to 10 straight with another sweep against an overmatched opponent, but the job only gets tougher moving forward.
The Vulcans ushered out Dominican 25-19, 29-27, 25-20 on Sunday night at UHH gym, sending the visitors from San Rafael, Calif., back to their hotel after just 90 minutes.
UHH libero Kaila Lizama tied a career high with 29 digs. She also had 29 digs a night earlier against Fresno Pacific. Bria Beale had another double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs, Armani Moultrie added nine kills, and Kamilla Marinas had eight kills and hit .350 for the Vuls, who finished with a .138. hitting clip.
UHH (15-5 overall, 10-2 PacWest) was outblocked by Dominican (1-16, 1-11), which has lost 10 straight, 10-9. But that didn’t matter much because the Vuls posted a higher sideout percentage in every set.
Tiffany Wong, all of 5 feet 6, had 12 kills to lead the Penguins, who hit just .105. Catherine Johnson added 10 kills.
Wong hit just .098 but she found holes in UHH’s defense. It was a concern to UHH coach Chris Leonard because the next two opponents, Point Loma and Azusa Pacific, will have a better lineup of hitters.
“We didn’t play as clean as I’d like to, and we missed a lot of plays,” he said. “I have to give credit to Dominican’s No. 3 (Wong). She’s a crafty player. We have to do a better job of picking up shots. We missed a few of those. We’ve dug ourselves into holes, but we’ve been finding a way to get out a point at a time. It feels good to get another sweep at home.”
In the 25-19 first set, the Penguins passed better than UHH’s previous opponents and provided a tough fight. They trailed 24-19 until Parisian slammed down set point.
Parisian had five kills and hit .250 in the first set. Parisian had seven kills but hit negative .031.
The Vulcans had one ace from Beale but monopolized the serve with a 73 percent sideout rate. Dominican had just a 56 percent sideout rate and couldn’t generate enough scoring runs. UHH finished with just three aces.
The 29-27 second set tested UHH’s determination. The Penguins simply wouldn’t go away. They took a 27-26 lead on Johnson’s line shot.
On the previous play, Beale hit long to allow a 26-26 tie. But the brilliance of Beale is that she’s like a pitcher. It’s impossible to know if she hit a three-run homer or struck out. Her composure is rock steady like her whiplash swing.
She drilled a kill to tie it 27-27, Dominican had a hitting error, and Beale closed the set with a sinking fastball in front of the back row for set point.
Beale finished with six kills to lead UHH, which had a 60 percent sideout rate, due to Dominican’s better defense.
In the 25-20 third set, the Vuls bolted to a 6-0 lead, increased it to 23-18, and closed it on a Beale kill.
“Kamilla had a nice night and hit .350,” Leonard said. “Bria came in with another 14 kills. But we still have to be better at playing loose balls.”
On Saturday, UHH swept Fresno Pacific 25-19, 26-24, 25-22 for its ninth straight win on career-high day.
Moultrie had a career-high 17 kills and hit .556, Beale had a double-double with 14 kills and 22 digs, and Lizama set a career high with 29 digs.
The beatdown of the weak sisters of the PacWest is over. Of UHH’s last 10 wins, only Biola has a winning record. The Vuls produced eight sweeps during that run.
The schedule is much tougher from here on out. Up next is Point Loma (12-6, 8-2), in fifth place and right behind UHH, at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Then it’s second-place Azusa Pacific next Monday. Finally, the Vuls will face competition that will hit back.