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Sophomore outside hitter Caylen Alexander led the Rainbow Wahine against the Oregon Ducks with 13 kills.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa women’s volleyball team (24-9) gave the second-seeded Oregon Ducks (28-5) all they could handle on their home court, especially in the first set, but ultimately fell short in its bid for an upset victory and a spot in the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Tournament Sweet 16. The ‘Bows lost in four sets to the Ducks in Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene on December 1, 23-25, 12-25 and 17-25.

UH ended its 2023 season with a 24-9 record and a Big West Championship. Oregon improved to 28-5 and advanced to the Madison, Wisconsin regional.

Sophomore outside hitter Caylen Alexander led the Rainbow Wahine with 13 kills and one service ace. Senior outside hitter Riley Wagoner added six kills. Senior middle blocker Amber Igiede contributed four kills and three blocks, and senior outside hitter Kendra Ham added four kills.

Game script

UH jumped out to an early lead in the first set 5-2 on kills by Igiede, Alexander and Ham. The Rainbow Wahine extended their lead 10-4 on an attack error by Oregon outside hitter Mimi Colyer. UH led by as much as seven at 19-12, before the Ducks began their comeback, going on a 7-1 run to cut the Rainbow Wahine lead to one at 20-19. Teams traded points until Oregon tied the set at 22. An Alexander kill gave UH a narrow one point lead, before the Ducks tied it back up at 23 a piece. Then, an Alexander attack went wide and an Oregon kill gave the Ducks the 25-23 comeback set win.

The Rainbow Wahine kept it close in the beginning of the second set trailing by just one at 3-4, before the Ducks went on a five-point run to surge ahead 9-3. UH then went on a four-point scoring run of its own forcing Oregon to call a timeout at 9-7. That’s when the Ducks took control of the set taking the next seven points in a row leaping ahead 16-7. Oregon increased its lead to 12 at 21-9 and never looked back taking the set 25-12.

Oregon picked up where they left off leaping ahead 4-0 early in the third set. UH responded with kills by senior middle blocker Kennedi Evans and Alexander to close the gap to three at 6-9. The Rainbow Wahine went on another run on kills by Igiede and Alexander, and a block by redshirt freshman setter Jackie Matias and Igiede to cut the Ducks lead to 11-10. The Ducks increased their lead to four at 16-12 and 18-14. Oregon then closed the third set strong eventually winning 25-17.

The Rainbow Wahine advanced to the second round of the national tournament after their upset win over the seventh-seeded Iowa State Cyclones in four sets on November 30. UH was also the only Big West team to advance into the second round after UC Santa Barbara fell to Houston in the first round in four sets.

This was UH’s 30th straight appearance and 41st overall in the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Tournament. The Oregon match also marked the final match for UH’s six seniors: Igiede, Ham, Wagoner, Evans, Talia Edmonds and Chandler Cowell.

—By Marc Arakaki

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