After tallying two wins over a cross-state preseason, the UC Riverside women’s volleyball team returned to the comfortable confines of the Student Recreation Center Arena to square off against nationally ranked Hawaii. Despite a spirited fight in the second set, the Highlanders fell to the Rainbow Wahine in straight sets, 25-12, 29-27, 25-19. The loss is the team’s seventh straight while the ‘Bows moved to 2-0 in conference.

With over 700 fans filling the seats of the arena, the teams traded points before the Rainbow Wahine, who advanced to the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, took control, reeling off seven straight points to win the set, 25-12. The home team recorded a positive kill-to-error ratio (7-6) but only connected on .029 percent of 35 total attacks compared to Hawaii’s conversion of .273 on two fewer attacks.

The second set saw 14 lead changes and three ties as the pesky Highlanders went head-to-head with the Wahine, fending off four set points late in the frame before ultimately conceding on a Hawaii kill, 29-27.

UC Riverside jumped out to an 11-8 advantage behind four kills by Fabiana Rosas and eventually knotted the score at 16 apiece late in the third set. The visiting team, however, found another gear, finishing off UCR 25-19 for its second victory in conference play.

Senior Megan Reza is still optimistic about the season despite the early struggles. The team, she says, has connected over a preseason schedule that has seen the team travel to three other states.

“The team has absolutely bonded. That’s the beauty of a preseason on the road and school starting so late, we spend almost the entire day, every day with one another so you get to learn a lot about new teammates and develop good chemistry right away,” she stated.  “Ashley (Cox) and Tyler (Dorsey) have always been great mentors to our new players, we make it a priority to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy.”

Reza explained that a selection to the Southern Utah University Invitational All-Tournament team gave her the confidence to be an example for incoming freshman.

“It was great being chosen for the SUU All-Tournament team. Coming back off of two knee surgeries last year, I wasn’t even sure if I would have the opportunity to play again, so every game is extra important,” Reza stated. “Going into this season with a little chip on my shoulder definitely gave me the extra boost of confidence and drive I needed to be a good example for the rest of the team as a senior.”

Rosas led the Highlanders with 12 kills in the game while Reza and Alex Gresham each chipped in eight. Hawaii was led by Kalei Greeley and Tai Manu-Olevao with 12.

The team hits the road this week to face off against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, beginning on Oct. 3.