RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL
Wahine volleyball streak ends at 114
The Wahine lose for the first time in the WAC since 1998, falling to the Aggies
More like pow!
Exclamation point needed.
No. 25 New Mexico State knocked out No. 11 Hawaii last night, ending the nation's longest active conference winning streak in the process. The Aggies (21-1, 5-1) were able to do something that no Western Athletic Conference volleyball team had been able to do since 1998: topple the Rainbow Wahine.
And New Mexico State did it in impressive fashion, needing to rally late in Games 2 and 4, then holding firm in Game 5. After two hours and 30 minutes, the Aggies walked out of a packed Las Cruces High gym with the program's biggest win, 22-30, 30-28, 27-30, 30-24, 15-13.
"I'm so proud of my team," Aggies coach Mike Jordan said in a telephone call. "We didn't roll over, even when we were down in Games 2 and 4.
WAHINE WAC NUMBERS
114: Regular-season wins
Last loss: Oct. 10, 1998 at Brigham Young
132: Overall conference wins
148-2: Regular-season record
170-4: Overall conference record
"I think it's the biggest win we've ever had, especially since they had that streak going and we were so close twice last year. It's the biggest win for me personally, too."
The last time Hawaii (13-5, 7-1) lost in the WAC was Oct. 10, 1998. Jordan was in his first season with New Mexico State, and "I was trying to recruit athletes so we could be competitive," he said. "Now, there's no question that people have to recognize that the WAC is more than Hawaii. I think it's good for the conference."
IT'S NOT GOOD, however, for the collective Wahine psyche as Hawaii looks at the last two of its marathon of seven matches in 11 days.
No doubt, today's long plane ride home was going to feel a little longer, with plenty of time to think about the little errors that added up in a costly big way. Hawaii also has plenty of time to get the defeat out of their minds and focus on Monday's match against a very good Notre Dame team.
"That's the thing: We've got to bounce back quickly," Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. "We can't dwell on this. We have to go right back into the practice gym and get ready for Notre Dame.
"When looking at the schedule last spring, we knew this was going to be a tough place to win. I thought we were the better team tonight, but they converted when they had to and we didn't. I feel we could have and should have won. That's what is disappointing."
Shoji has been philosophical all season about "The Streak."
"All streaks must end and this one was no exception," he said. "We would have loved to have extended it, but I think we've been fortunate to win as many as we have. There were a number of matches we could have lost during the run but didn't."
Last season's two matches with the Aggies come to mind. The Wahine survived in five both times.
The third time was a charm for New Mexico State, which had four players in double-figure kills last night, led by Alice Borden's 17 and Anna Callis' 14. The Aggies also served the Wahine off the court with 13 aces, six by defensive specialist Jordan Bostic.
An ace by Bostic capped a 5-0 run in Game 2 where the Aggies had trailed 28-25. She also had two aces during an 8-0 run that closed out Game 4.
Hawaii was on the verge of taking the match in four, seemingly in control at 20-13 and 24-22. Wahine senior Sarah Mason netted her attempt, giving the serve to Bostic. She never gave it back as the Aggies finished off the game on a 17-4 run.
NEW MEXICO STATE jumped out to a 7-2 lead in Game 5 only to have Hawaii tie it at 7-all. It was tied four more times before a kill by Borden gave the Aggies the lead for good at 12-11.
The Wahine held off two Aggie match points to pull to 14-13 but could not hold off a third, as Callis' last swing put New Mexico State in rare company. Prior to last night, only BYU had hung a WAC loss on Hawaii, in the WAC tournament finals of 1996 and 1997, and during the 1998 regular season.
The Wahine are now 148-2 in regular-season WAC matches, 170-4 including WAC tournament play.
Jamie Houston's 26 kills led Hawaii while Mason added 13 and Juliana Sanders, 11. The Wahine outblocked the Aggies, 17-8, with Kari Gregory in on eight and Kanoe Kamana'o and Mason in on five.