Dec. 5, 2008

Courtesy of Hawaii Athletics
LOS ANGELES – The No. 6 University of Hawai`i Rainbow Wahine volleyball team (29-3) swept the Belmont Bruins (25-8) 25-19, 25-11 and 25-16 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Galen Center on the campus of Southern California Friday.
Nickie Thomas led a balanced UH attack, hitting .625 with five kills and five blocks. Amber Kaufman added seven kills and five service aces while Kanani Danielson hit .368 with eight kills and five digs. Aneli Cubi-Otineru hit .357 with seven kills and seven digs while Jamie Houston posed seven kills and three blocks.
After spotting Belmont a 6-5 lead to start the first set, Hawai`i ran off five of the next six points to go ahead 10-7. A 4-1 run by the Bruins tied it at 12-12, before a 7-1 UH run gave them a 19-13 advantage. Belmont got back into it at 21-19 with a 6-2 run. But the Rainbow Wahine had the answer, scoring the final four points to take the first set 25-19.
Mafua served UH out to a 3-0 lead to start the second set, only to see the Bruins run off five-straight points, taking a 5-3 edge. Kaufman then took over, putting away a kill to get to her serve, before pushing UH on a 10-0 run that included five aces to go ahead 13-5. In all, Hawai`i posted eight aces in the set, taking it 25-11.
Belmont opened a 3-2 lead to start the third before UH ran off five of the next six points to go ahead 7-4. A 5-0 run by the Rainbow Wahine later in the set got UH’s lead to 18-11. UH continued to lead throughout, scoring five of the final seven points, ending the match with a 25-16 third set victory.
The Rainbow Wahine now await the winners of the match between No. 15 San Diego and No. 11 Southern California in the NCAA Second Round tomorrow at 6 p.m. (4 p.m. Hawai`i time) at the Galen Center.