Oct. 27—As the calendar gets closer to turning to November, an experienced Hawaii women's volleyball team with six seniors can feel the final stretch run just ahead.
As the calendar gets closer to turning to November, an experienced Hawaii women's volleyball team with six seniors can feel the final stretch run just ahead.
After playing just three home matches in the entire month of October, the second-place Rainbow Wahine will play four of their final six regular-season matches at home in November before the Big West tournament, including showdowns against first-place UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State, the two teams that beat Hawaii in the first half of conference play.
Before then, UH plays two matches this weekend against opponents it swept in 90 minutes or less at home earlier this season.
"I'm trying to really stay present, " said middle blocker Amber Igiede, one of the six seniors. "It's really hard not to be so emotional toward the end, but we still have a lot of volleyball left. Really staying present so we can get the job done and reach our full potential."
Igiede, who on Monday was named the Big West Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season, has been her dominant self all season.
The reigning Big West Player of the Year, who ranks 15th on UH's all-time kills list, has hit better than.300 in six of her past seven matches and is coming off matches against UC Davis and UC Riverside in which she combined for 30 kills in 49 swings with five errors for a.510 hitting percentage.
She ranks 25th in hitting percentage in the nation at.398, and her 285 total kills are 49 more than any player ranked ahead of her.
Igiede is the only non-setter for UH to start every set this season, as UH hasn't shied away from running different lineups on the court all season.
"I think it's really cool that (coach Robyn Ah Mow ) tries different things out just because you never know what's going to happen in a game, " Igiede said. "It's really cool to get used to and comfortable with different players, but right now, the past three matches, we've been doing really well so far."
UH has started the past three matches with Paula Guersching and Riley Wagoner at outside hitter and Caylen Alexander at opposite, with Tayli Ikenaga at libero.
Hawaii, which is 10-0 when it hits.250 or better, has hit.333 and.398 in its past two outings while at the same time getting its backups meaningful time on the court.
"If we are getting our whole bench to play, that means whoever is starting each set is doing their job to allow other people to (play ), " Ah Mow said after Saturday's sweep of UC Riverside. "There's a lot of people we can interchange, and giving them the opportunity and experience to play is going to be a plus for later instead of not doing it right now. Leaving the same people in and then needing (the bench ) later but not having the experience of having played isn't what we want."
Ah Mow's main focus after the past two wins is a Hawaii block that ranks fifth in the Big West at 2.18 per set.
UH has just eight blocks over six sets in its past two matches.
"I think I'm just blind right now to our blocking, " Ah Mow said. "We've got to get our hands on balls and be better."
Hawaii is a combined 38-2 all-time against its two opponents this week. UH hit a season-best.402 in its first match against CSUN, including a season-high.722 by Igiede on 13 kills and no errors in 18 swings. The Wahine gave up a season-low eight points to the Roadrunners in the first set of their first match.
Igiede hit a season-high.722 against the Matadors with 13 kills and no errors in 18 swings.