Nov. 19—Fighting back tears as she was announced for the final time at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Amber Igiede gave the hometown crowd one last memorable performance.
Fighting back tears as she was announced for the final time at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Amber Igiede gave the hometown crowd one last memorable performance.
The fifth-year senior middle blocker had a match-high 21 kills and four blocks and helped Hawaii pull off a stunning comeback in the first set of an eventual 25-23, 25-23, 14-25, 25-17 win over Long Beach State on senior night Saturday.
A season-high crowd of 7, 265 saw the Rainbow Wahine overcome an 11-point deficit in the first set and score 20 of the final 27 points to set the tone for a fun sendoff for UH's six seniors.
"I still stayed calm, " Hawaii coach Robyn Ah Mow said. "They just kind of fired it up and they just came back, which was amazing to see."
Igiede, the reigning Big West Player of the Year who has won the conference each season she's played at UH, sent the Rainbow Wahine into the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed with her 1, 325th career kill that ended the match.
Hawaii (21-8, 14-4 Big West ) will receive a bye in next week's Big West tournament held in Long Beach, Calif., and will need to win matches on Friday and Saturday to secure a 30th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's the best way it could have ended. Almost like a championship match, " Igiede said. "It was so rewarding."
Sophomore Caylen Alexander sparked UH off the bench with 19 kills and nine digs, and junior libero Tayli Ikenaga continued her stellar play with a team-high 15 digs.
Junior setter Kate Lang had 50 assists, nine digs and two blocks.
Hawaii got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 7-0 and 10-2, with its only two points coming on service errors by Long Beach State.
The lead grew as large as 11 at 16-5 before Hawaii embarked on a stunning 20-7 run to stun the Beach.
Senior Kendra Ham, who committed three errors in her first four swings, made up for it serving nine consecutive points as part of a 10-0 run with two aces.
UH's pin hitters combined for five errors in seven swings before Alexander substituted into the game and provided four kills to jump-start the UH offense.
Junior Paula Guersching, another mid-set sub, put down a kill to make it 24-22, and on UH's second set point, Long Beach State served into the net for its sixth service error of the opening set to send the crowd into a frenzy.
"I was spirit. It was heart. It was everything you could think of, " Igiede said. "(We ) couldn't have won without winning that.
Alexander's one-armed block in the middle sparked UH to an early lead in the second set before the Beach rallied to take their first lead at 19-18 on a UH serve-receive error.
LBSU led 21-19 when UH rattled off four straight points with Ham again serving for a 23-21 lead.
Ham's third ace tied the match at 21-all and Igiede's 12th kill gave UH the lead.
Hawaii misplayed a free ball and then committed a net violation to make it 23-23 when Alexander put down a tip or set point.
After a short delay to wipe the floor, Alexander served for the victory and a Long Beach State kill attempt went wide for a 2-0 UH lead.
Long Beach State avoided a sweep with a dominant third set in which it hit.577 with 17 kills and two errors.
UH had five errors in the set but still maintained a 2-1 lead despite hitting.180 for the match through three sets.
UH brought in senior Talia Edmonds to serve the final point in the fourth set that ended with a patented Igiede kill straight down in the middle to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Igiede had seven of her kills in the final set and Alexander, who reached double figures in kills for just the third time in league play, had five on seven attempts.
"She's been working so hard and the coaches have been so hard on her and she's been taking it like a champ, " Igiede said about Alexander. "I think she did everything we needed her to do tonight."
UH finished in a tie for second place with Cal Poly, which beat UC Davis in five sets on Saturday, but came out ahead in a tiebreaker.
Elise Agi had 14 kills to lead the Beach (19-9, 13-5 ), who are the fourth seed in the tournament they host and are on the same side of the bracket as top seed UC Santa Barbara.