The Highlanders (6-19, 2-12) were looking to build off of their previous win at home against UC Irvine (5-20, 2-11) this past week when they hosted the University of Hawaii (22-3,12-2) in a weekend match on Sunday, Nov. 10. Although UCR held its own in the first and third set, Big West leader Hawaii would bounce back in both sets and close the match in three sets.
In comparison to their last matchup against Hawaii, UCR was initially able to keep pace with the Rainbow Warriors late into the first set. The Highlanders stuck with their opposition, battling to a 16-16 tie, but an offensive surge by Hawaii led to a 9-3 run to close out the set in their favor. UCR was unable to reestablish themselves in the second set. Hawaii emerged fiercely and took a17-5 lead. Hawaii kept UCR in their rearview mirror and took the second set, 25-11.
The third set was reminiscent of the opening contest. The teams traded points, all the way to a 13-13 tie. In a similar fashion, Hawaii was once again able to flip a switch and go on a 12-4 run. Hawaii finished the set 25-17 and in turn shut out the Highlanders 3-0.
UCR met UC Irvine (UCI) for the second time in 10 days on Friday, Nov. 15. This time around, the Highlanders traveled to the Anteater’s home. UCR attacked strategically in the opening set much like they did during their previous meeting with UCI. The Highlanders took a 9-6 lead due to a kill and a pair of UCI errors at the net. The troubles for UCI continued and UCR increased their lead, 19-15. Although the Anteaters began to fight back rigorously, Highlander sophomore libero Renata Bath delivered two pivotal points to clinch the set, 26-24.
UCI approached the second set with a different mentality. UCI’s freshman outside hitter Joy Umeh was the star of the set, providing two kills that gave the Anteaters a 15-8 lead. UCR was able to cut the deficit to four and bring the score to 23-19, but a pair of attack errors resulted in UCI taking the set, 25-19.
In the third set, the opposition continued to clean up its offensive mistakes and worked toward a 22-17 lead over UCR. Freshman outside hitter Amarachi Osuji provided two kills for the Highlanders, diminishing the point gap to two, 22-20. Umeh once again came up big in the final moments of the set, contributing a kill and two blocks to end the set, 25-20.
Both teams went toe-to-toe in the fourth set. The two sides were tied 21-21 in the final stages of the set. Up until this point, the Highlanders appeared very disciplined on the net. Unfortunately, freshman middle blocker Onye Ofoegbu exposed the fault in UCR’s blocking from previous sets. Ofoegbu had four kills on seven swings and closed the final set 25-21 to give the victory to UCI, 3-1.
The Highlanders will now close out their season with a series of home matches. UCR will host Cal Baptist University (12-15, 6-8) on Wednesday, Nov. 20 and UC Davis (15-12, 7-7) on Saturday, Nov. 23.