No. 4/4 Hawai’i shuts down No. 5/5 UC Irvine offense in comeback win

Photo courtesy of Hawai’i athletics

No. 4/4 Hawai’i made the adjustments to slow down the No. 5/5 UC Irvine offense – and did so in a drastic way.

The Anteaters were limited to a negative attack percentage in the final two games as the Rainbow Warriors rallied to pull off the conference win 22-25, 27-25, 25-18, 25-18 on Saturday in Irvine, California.

This defensive performance comes after UC Irvine hit .425 in a sweep to open the two-match series on Friday. In addition, the Anteaters opened the series finale with a .407 attack percentage in their first-game win.

Hawai’i had three players with at least five blocks in the victory and finished with 12 blocks – three more blocks than UC Irvine.


Middle attacker Kurt Nusterer led all players with seven blocks, including having back-to-back blocks to cap off a 10-4 run late in the third-game win. Opposite Alaka’i Todd and setter Tread Rosenthal each contributed five blocks.

Rosenthal also guided the offense to out-hit UC Irvine .362 to .146 in front of a road crowd of 2,600 people.

Freshman outside attacker Louis Sakanoko ended with a match-high 16 kills on a .375 attack percentage. Sakanoko had a game-high five kills in the second game to help the Rainbow Warriors even the match and then had a combined seven kills in the final two games.

Both of the Rainbow Warriors middle attackers hit more than .500 and committed a combined two attack errors against the Anteaters. Nusterer had seven kills on a .545 attack percentage, while Guilherme Voss added eight kills and hit .538.

Outside attacker Hilir Henno in the loss had a team-high 13 kills but was held to a .104 attack percentage.

UC Irvine remains in second place in the Big West but fell two matches behind first-place No. 1/1 Long Beach State in the Big West standings. The Anteaters must now sweep their two-match series against the Beach next week to win the Big West regular season title.