Nevada volleyball takes Hawai'i to four games

RENO - The University of Nevada volleyball team had two chances to force a fifth game and possibly upset the eighth best team in the country.

Instead, No. 1 seed Hawai'i rallied back to take game 4 and the match, 30-19, 22-30, 30-28 and 33-31, during the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament before 1,192 fans at Lawlor Events Center.

"What a match," Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said. "That was probably the best match I've had the opportunity to coach and to watch."

The Rainbow Wahine (24-6) take on Utah State today at 5 p.m. in the title game while the Pack, the fourth seed of the tournament, end the season with an 18-12 record. Nevada, though, could extend their season if selected for the NCAA tournament.

Hawai'i coach Dave Shoji knew Nevada would give his team a battle, especially when their squad is healthy.

"We knew they were a good team capable of doing what they did tonight," Shoji said.

Five Nevada players recorded double figures in kills including Allison Hernandez, who earned her first career double-double filling in for the injured Teal Ericson.

Hernandez came in late in the first game for Ericson, who was in pain with a shoulder injury, and finished with 10 kills and 12 digs.

"We needed an outside hitter who can swing," Scruggs said about her freshman playing in the front for the first time this season. "She plays front row in practice."

Shoji was impressed with Hernandez, mainly because his team has never seen her before.

"We weren't quite prepared for Hernandez," he said. "She did a nice job off the bat."

Senior Salaia Salave'a ended with a match-high 20 kills, Carly Sorensen added 16 and Karly Sipherd had 12. Erika Ryan also had 10 kills.

"Today, I had to put it all out there," Salave'a said.

Senior Christine Harms led Nevada in digs with 16, Dana Henry added 12 and senior Lindsay Holda had 10.

"We battled with them the whole way," Harms said.

Setter Tristin Johnson matched Hawai'i's Kanoe Kamana'o with 59 assists, and Johnson also added five kills.

"Tonight, we knew they had their full squad," Kamana'o said.

Victoria Prince led the Wahine with 18 kills, Jamie Houston added 12 and Tara Hittle had 10 kills. Susie Boogaard led in digs with 17 and Ashley Watanabe added 14.

After having two leads of seven points in the final game, Nevada set up their first game point at 29-28 on a Hernandez kill.

Hittle's tip tied the game before Sorensen racked up another kill to give the Pack a 31-30 edge. Hernandez landed a kill out and Kamana'o and Prince blocked Sorensen to take the lead at 32-31.

"They put up a big block," Salave'a said. "They looked like a big giant."

Prince whistled her 18th kill between Sipherd and Sorensen for the win.

Utah State battled back to defeat New Mexico State in five games, 24-30, 30-24, 27-30, 30-25 and 15-13, earlier in the day.

Utah State improved its record to 21-11 while New Mexico State ends the season at 20-7.

"That was a fun match," USU coach Burt Fuller said. "We talked to our kids about being tougher and they were. To come from behind in game 5, we as a coaching staff are very proud of our players."

Three players recorded a double-double for USU with Carolyn Forbush racking up 15 kills and 12 digs. Dominque Arsenault dished out 61 assists and 10 digs, and Beth Hodge had 14 digs and 10 block assists.

Erin Graybill and Zuzana Cernianska each tallied 16 kills, and Kelsi Peterson led in digs with 16.

Tanya Allen led NMSU with 15 kills and 13 digs, and Amber Simpson added 13 kills.

Alice Borden finished with 11 k ills and Sarah Silagy and Kim Oguh each had 10.

Jackie Choi dealt 52 assists and Jordan Bostic led with 60 digs.


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