Wahine Volleyball: Fall in Three to USC

Top ranked USC beats second ranked Hawaii in three games in the championship match of the State Farm Classic.

HONOLULU - The No. 2 University of Hawai`i Rainbow Wahine (1-1) fell to the No. 1 USC Women of Troy (2-0) 30-22, 30-26 and 31-29 in the State Farm Women's Volleyball Classic/NACWAA Championship match in front of a near-sellout crowd of 9,345 at the Stan Sheriff Center Saturday evening.

Hawai`i was led by the play of All-American Kim Willoughby, who had 21 kills and 13 digs. Maja Gustin had a good match, putting up seven kills and three blocks while Lily Kahumoku had seven kills and 13 digs to her credit. Melissa Villaroman had another solid performance in the back row, finishing with 13 digs.

The Rainbow Wahine jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead off a Kahumoku kill, a Willoughby ace and a USC error. The Women of Troy would keep fighting, earning their first tie at 7-7 before UH took a 15-14 lead into the media timeout. USC would then reel off five straight points out of the break, taking a 19-15 lead. UH would fight back but it wasn't enough as USC took the first game 30-22.

The second game would again start out tight as neither team would have a lead of more than two points going into the media timeout, where UH held a 15-13 lead. USC would come back to cut the deficit to 23-22, forcing Hawai`i head coach Dave Shoji to call a timeout. The Women of Troy would keep rolling, scoring three more points out of the break to take a 25-23 lead and force UH to use their last timeout. Hawai`i would hold off a game point at 29-25 before a big USC block put game two away 30-26.

USC would use a 6-1 run early in the third game to take a 15-11 lead going into the media timeout. Hawai`i would keep fighting as they went on a 4-1 run to cut the deficit to 25-24 and force a USC timeout. The Rainbow Wahine would then tie the game at 26 and 27 before taking their first lead of the game at 28-27 since being up 4-3 early on. Hawai`i would hold game point at 29-28, but USC would reel off three straight points to take the third game 31-29.

"We had the chance to win all three games and we didn't execute," Shoji said. "We didn't make big plays when we needed to and they won. We're going to regroup and go back to work on Monday."

"I think it was a positive sign that we were in every game and I think we'll get better. We need to close the gap on USC and create a gap between us and Florida. That's what we need to do, stay ahead of everybody else."

Hawai`i will next host the 16th annual Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic, starting with a 7 p.m. match vs. No. 6 Minnesota on Friday, Aug. 29. The match will be preceded by a match between No. 22 Louisville and No. 13 UCLA. You can hear all Wahine matches, home and away, live on KKEA 1420 AM and on the internet at: www.kkea1420am.com.

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