Three of the 16 teams remaining in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament feature players from Hawaii, but only one is led by them.
For the first time since 2008, Utah advanced to the round of 16 with a 25-23, 25-19, 13-25, 27-25 win over Purdue on Friday in the championship game of the Salt Lake City Sub-Regional.
The Utes avoided becoming one of five hosts eliminated in the first weekend of tournament play thanks to a huge game from senior Adora Anae. The 2014 Kahuku graduate finished with a match-high 27 kills and added 12 digs for her second double-double in as many games.
Anae, a three-time All-Pac-12 first-team selection, set another Utah record for the most kills in a single match in the NCAA tournament. She was on the 2014 team that lost in the second round of the tournament and last year’s squad which was eliminated in the first round in five sets by UNLV.
“We weren’t thinking backward and we were only focusing on what we could do now heading into this tournament, and hosting, and the amount of energy we were going to bring in this tournament,” Anae told reporters after the game. “It is always tough trying to grind out in the toughest conference in the nation, but that is where you learn and grow. From two years ago, we are a way different program as a whole.”
Utah failed to make the tournament in Anae’s sophomore season. Last year they added setter Bailey Choy, the reigning Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year out of ‘Iolani.
Choy finished with 40 assists, five digs and put down both of her kill attempts against the Boilermakers.
Utah will play Texas on Friday in the third round at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif.
>> Brigham Young, with senior setter Alohi Robins-Hardy (Kamehameha ’15) and sophomore setter Kiani Tuileta (Punahou ’15) on its roster, rolled into the Sweet 16 with sweeps over American University and Oregon. Robins-Hardy had an assist and a block assist in limited action in the first game and did not play against the Ducks. She has played in 21 of the Cougars’ 32 matches this season and made one start. She is eight assists shy of 1,000 for her career. Tuileta has appeared in only one match this season. BYU will play regional host Kentucky on Friday in the third round.
>> Colorado advanced to the third round after sweeping both James Madison and host Baylor. Sophomore Lillie Klemmer, a 2016 Punahou alumna, played in one set against JMU and had a block assist and a dig. Klemmer has played in eight matches this season. The Buffs will play Wisconsin on Friday in Lexington, Ky.