HONOLULU — University of Hawai‘i senior Rado Parapunov marked 13 kills, five aces, and three blocks to lead the top-rated Rainbow Warriors to a 3-0 straight set — 25-17, 25-18, 25-13 — win over the University of California Irvine, Saturday night at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
The two-game sweep over UC Irvine, Friday night’s match going the full five sets before Hawai‘i settled the 3-2 win, completes a perfect conference season for just the third time in school history, and the first since 1996, states a release from the Hawai‘i Athletic Department.
Hawai‘i will enter the Big West Conference Tournament next week as the No. 1 seed with its 16-match overall win streak. This give the Rainbow Warriors a first round bye to the semifinals where they will meet one of the quarterfinal round winners.
Following the Saturday match, six Hawai‘i seniors including Paraapunov, James Anastassiades, Colton Cowell, Patrick Gasman, Jackson Van Eekeren, and Gage Worsley were honored during a toned-down, but still emotional Senior Night ceremony that included messages played on the area videoboard from each of the seniors’ families.
Lei that were dropped off by family and friends earlier in the day were also presented to the seniors during the traditional Senior Night celebration.
Parapunov, finishing with a .417 hit performance in his 13 kills and five aces, moved him past Delano Thomas for fourth on the school’s all-time aces list. Cowell added eight kills and eight digs, and Gasman marked five kills and a pair of aces. Worsley recorded five digs, and Van Eekeren took the floor late in the final set.
The UC Irvine Anteaters were led by Joel Schneidmiller and Francesco Sani who each marked nine kills.
As a tea,. the Rainbow Warriors hit .385 for the match with 10 aces and 8.5 team blocks while holding the Anteaters to .148 hitting, a stark contrast to the UCI .417 clip, Friday night.
The Big West Tournament starts Thursday with a pair of quarterfinal round matches, followed by the semifinals on Friday, and the championship match on Saturday.
University of California Santa Barbara, whom Hawai‘i defeated 3-1, 3-0, 3-0 earlier in the season, is the No. 2 seed in the Big West Tournament and will also get a bye into the semifinals.
Spectrum Sports will air all five matches of the tournament, live.
Source: The Garden Island