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by Kalamalama staff

Although the HPU women’s volleyball team failed to make the postseason, it ended the season with a bang, upsetting the 12-0 PacWest champs. The Lady Sea Warriors showcased one of their best performances of the season at St. Andrew’s Priory and shocked the entire conference by trouncing Brigham Young University-Hawai‘i in four sets. After losing the first set, 17-25, HPU took the next three, 26-24, 25-18, 25-21.

The Nov. 6 match was highly contested from the first point. HPU jumped to an early 4-1 lead in the first set, but the Seasiders fought to tie it up at 12 with a service ace by libero Melanie Manutai. A flurry of HPU hitting errors gave BYUH the lead, 17-13, and Tanza Buroker sealed the deal for the Seasiders with two kills in the final three points.

The two teams exchanged points throughout the second set, tying 11 times. BYUH led 14-11, but two kills by Natasha Bell and one by Shawntell Jones tied the set at 14. The Seasiders reached game point at 24-23 from a kill by Ane Vea, but a hitting error by Agnes Tuilevuka tied it once again at 24. HPU’s Kelly Balanay hammered away a kill to give the Lady Sea Warriors the advantage. BYUH head coach Wilfred Navalta quickly called a timeout to stall the game, but Julia Gruszecka didn’t succumb to the pressure. Gruszecka’s serve slipped through Manutai’s fingers to tie the match at one set apiece.

The Lady Sea Warriors carried their momentum into the third set and jumped to an early 9-3 lead. They never looked back. Balanay and Bell denied Vea at the net with a block for game point, 25-18. The effective HPU offense hit .326 in the third set, compared to .128 by BYUH.

With the momentum, HPU continued to compete with the Seasiders. The two teams tied 10 times throughout the fourth set. The Lady Sea Warriors actually trailed 21-20, until they pulled away in the late stages on a five-point streak. Balanay fittingly ended the game with a shot off the BYUH block to complete the upset. She finished with a match-high 22 kills and seven blocks.

“ We just wanted to finish the season off positive,” said Balanay. “It shows people who may think we’re a bad team, that we’re not.”

HPU’s Tricia Yoshimura racked up a season-best 39 digs. Gruszecka posted 11 kills and 10 digs.



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