Hawaii needed every weapon at its disposal to come back to defeat last-place Cal State Fullerton in five sets on Saturday night.
One of those required weapons was senior setter Norene Iosia, who broke out her old role as an all-around threat — hitting to go with her veteran setting, tough serving and passing — in a time of desperation for the reeling Rainbow Wahine.
Starting in the third set, coach Robyn Ah Mow made a couple of moves: she went away from the existing offense for the first time this season by having Iosia play the front row with Bailey Choy setting in a modified 6-2; and she put freshman Braelyn Akana at right-side hitter.
Ah Mow called Iosia “the MVP” after the 22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 15-12 reverse sweep of the Titans. She was one kill away from a triple-double — nine kills, 26 assists and 17 digs — in helping UH improve to 13-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big West.
“We gave Norene a new role. A role that she was familiar with from the previous year, but she hadn’t hit the ball in practice, or blocked the entire year,” assistant coach Kaleo Baxter said on Tuesday. “But we knew what she was going to be able to do in that role, and she really stepped up for us.”
Whether that move will reappear in this week’s high-stakes matches — or down the line — remains to be seen.
UH takes on defending champ Cal Poly (5-0) at Mott Gym on Friday and up-and-coming UC Santa Barbara (5-0) at the Thunderdome on Saturday. The statuses of injured hitters Jolie Rasmussen and Brooke Van Sickle are still up in the air, making it an open question whether the 5-foot-11 Iosia will reprise the more offensive role that she put to good effect previously in her career.
#HawaiiWVB senior setter Norene Iosia plays it coy on whether she’ll hit again in upcoming matches after breaking out that part of her game in the five-set comeback against CS Fullerton. pic.twitter.com/AtEJZolg5y
— Hawaii Warrior World (@hawaiiwworld) October 10, 2019
To that question on Tuesday, before the team departed for the road, Iosia gave a short laugh and said, “I honestly do not know, really, the coaches are so unpredictable. But if it happens, I’m more than glad to do it. Whatever helps us win, and, yeah.”
Iosia, a three-time All-Big West first-teamer, had 212 kills her junior season and five triple-doubles in a true utility role. After eight aces last weekend, she’s now ninth on the UH career serving list with 115. Nikki Taylor (2013-16) is next at 117.
Our volleyball beat writer Cindy Luis found a couple of external feature stories on the Rainbow Wahine that you should check out.