April 18 – The Hawaii volleyball team’s Powerball number is 2021.
The Rainbow Warriors ended the program’s first undefeated regular season with a blow to UC Irvine on Saturday night (25-17, 25-18, 25-13) at the SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.
One night after the unranked anteaters survived in five sets, the warriors dominated all stages – plus three challenges – improving to 15-0 overall and 10-0 in the Great West.
“The job isn’t over yet,” UH told Rado Parapunov, who cracked 13 kills, shot five aces and had his handprints on three of the Warriors’ 8.5 blocks. “It means we’re on the right track. We’re doing something good. There’s still a lot of work to do.”
It took the Warriors just 62 minutes to set up the post-game celebration for soon-to-be-departing Seniors Parapunov, Colton Cowell, Patrick Gasman and James Anastassiades, and Juniors Gage Worsley and Jackson Van Eekeren. Anastassiades is a student assistant this season. Worsley and Van Eekeren will graduate next month. It won’t be an aloha ball yet. UH is hosting the Big West this week and, if things go well, looking for a place in the NCAA tournament.
About the perfect regular season, UH coach Charlie Wade said, “It’s a title, it’s not the title. We’re still focusing on a few weeks of competition.”
The senior warriors made an emphatic whistle-to-whistle statement. The end result was the service line. The warriors scored 47.9% of their serves. The anteaters had no answer to the Warriors’ successor to the Jump Spin servers. The warriors collected 10 aces, often forcing the anteaters to begin their double bets offensive well beyond the 3-meter line. The anteaters fell out with 45% in the first and third sets.
“We saw it in practice,” said Wade of the warriors’ service.
Wade compiled a list of Jakob Thelle, Cowell, Gasman and Parapunov. “Those four in a row make it every time,” said Wade. “There is no question that we can put the teams under pressure.”
The story goes on
In the first set, Gasman served six consecutive points, including two aces. The Warriors built a 24-11 lead before the anteaters made it interesting and scored six in a row.
In the third set Parapunov dropped six of his 13 kills and regained his disruptive serve. “Rado has had problems (with his serves) for the last week or two,” said Wade. “He wasn’t very good at Northridge (a week earlier). He fought again (Friday) night. I told him, as one of our golf analogies, he was on the pull driver tonight. I want him to drive and take a crack, and he took that and got the payoff for it. “
In a six-serve sequence, Parapunov produced five aces and forced a free ball return, which outside hitter Chaz Galloway crushed. The anteaters called for two timeouts to calm Parapunov down, but had limited other tactics. Two of the aces were against pin attacker Joel Schneidmiller, the most prolific anteater batsman. Schneidmiller finished with nine kills but made five attack errors and hit 200.
“I think all the emotions from the last few nights, especially tonight,” Parapunov said of his mindset. “(Wade) was like ‘green light’. That gave me the confidence to go as far as I could, and whatever happened, happened. Thankfully, it did.”
Wade said, “We certainly didn’t have as many nights (power serving) as I’d like. Tonight it was pretty good with a guy going back like this and having a good turn … when these guys dial in.” It is certainly a nice weapon. “
The Warriors also received a boost from Chaz Galloway, an off-batsman freshman who missed Friday’s match due to a non-coronavirus-related illness. Galloway contributed to three blocks, delivered an ace, and kept the games alive with his mid-back pass. Wade noted that Galloway also had six kills in 13 clean swings. “He’s sure to be a nice player on the floor,” said Wade.