Victory No. 1,108 may have even been sweeter than Friday’s record breaker for Hawaii coach Dave Shoji. Not only did it come against No. 10 UCLA — in the 71st meeting of his program’s longest running series — it came in front of the 14tth sellout at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Behind the tournament’s most outstanding player Emily Hartong’s 15 kills and a raucous turnstile crowd of 9,664 (10,300 tickets), the ninth-ranked Rainbow Wahine dispatched No. 10 UCLA 25-18, 25-17, 25-18 to claim the championship of the 26th Hawaiian Airlines Classic for the 11th time.
Hawaii (5-1, 3-0 HAC) handed UCLA (5-1, 2-1) its first loss of the season while also extending its series lead to 37-34. The teams have met every year since the Wahine program’s inception in 1974.
Joining Hartong on the all-tournament team were Rainbow Wahine Ali Longo and Mita Uiato; Karsta Lowe and Kelly Reeves of UCLA; Nikki Hess from Santa Clara; and New Mexico State’s Lauren Loerch.
It took 86 minutes for Hawaii to snap a three-match losing skid against UCLA. It was the first sellout since the 2011 NCAA regional semifinal against USC; the first came in 1994 when the Wahine opened the arena against San Jose State.
Hartong had three of Hawaii’s five aces and eight of the team’s 32 digs. Longo finished with a match-high 11 digs and Kalei Adolpho was in on five stuffs as the Wahine outblocked the Bruins 9-7.
In tonight’s first match, Santa Clara secured third place with a 25-22, 17-25, 25-16, 27-25 win over New Mexico State.
Hawaii shut down Lowe, UCLA’s left-handed 6-foot-6 outside hitter. She finished with seven kills and five errors when hitting .100.
Kelly Reeves led the Bruins with eight kills.
SCU 3, NMSU 1: Sabrina Clayton put down 19 kills and Nikki Hess added 15 as the Broncos (3-3, 1-2 HAC) rallied past the Aggies (1-5, 0-3 HAC). Santa Clara had three players in double-figure digs, with Taylor Milton and Alyssa Anderson with 15 each.
Lauren Loerch had 10 kills and NMSU had three swings at forcing a fifth set (24-22, 24-23, 25-24) but couldn’t finish it. The Aggies ended up with a 14-7 edge in blocks.