HONOLULU, Hawai'i - The Western Carolina volleyball team hit the road at 3:30 am Thursday morning to begin its trek to USA’s 50th state for the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic. The Catamounts landed on the island nearly 16 hours later and took to the court just shy of 22 hours after leaving Cullowhee to face the host team, University of Hawai’i. The Rainbow Wahine, who dropped out of the AVCA top-25 for just the 11th week since the poll began back 1982, would have been a tough opponent regardless of the travel but after being on the road for nearly 24 hours when the match ended the Catamounts were unable to pick up a victory.
WCU fought hard throughout the match and kept the Rainbow Wahine on their toes for most of the opening set before falling 25-15. The second set was once again close early before Hawai’i pulled away for a 25-14 win. The Rainbow Wahine would clinch the three-set victory with a strong 25-13 third set win.
The Catamounts were playing without their senior leader and setter Jo-Leigh VerVelde but freshman Hannah Price stepped in to deliver 16 assists, three digs and a kill in her absence. Freshman Gabby Gray was WCU’s best offensive threat as she put down eight kills while digging up seven balls.
WCU struggled getting through the Hawai’i defense and hit just -.086 as a team on the day while the Rainbow Wahine swung at a .259 clip and registered 13 blocks.
The Catamounts will rest up from their long day of travel and prepare to take on No. 22 Utah at 10:45 pm (EST)/4:45 pm (HAST) Friday evening. The Utes downed South Dakota 3-0 in their first match of the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic.