(HAWAII ATHLETICS) – The No. 3 University of Hawai'i beach volleyball team and Florida State engaged in another epic NCAA battle with the Seminoles outlasting the Rainbow Wahine, 3-2, in the semifinals of the 2018 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship.
With the win, the No. 4 seed Seminoles (33-6) punched a ticket into Sunday's national title game while also snapping UH's nation-leading 32 match win streak. Ironically, UH's last loss came on March 10 against the same Florida State squad in the East Meets West Challenge in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Despite the loss, the SandBows (37-4) are still alive in their national title hunt. UH will face top-seed UCLA Sunday at 5:30 p.m. HT with the winner facing Florida State in NCAA finals at 8:00 am HT.
The teams split the top four courts – FSU winning courts 1 and 2 and UH 2 and 4 – to set up the deciding match on court 5. It was a near repeat scenario of last year's matchup with the deciding point coming down to Court 5 in a three-set barn-burner. UH won that match last year, but this time, the Seminoles returned the favor. Madison Fitzpatrick and Francesca Goncalves powered past Paige Dreeuws and Hannah Zalopany 24-22, 21-23, 15-12 to send FSU into the title match with its 21st straight victory.
UH will now face UCLA (38-4) for the fourth time this season. The SandBows went 1-2 against the Bruins while playing them three times in the first five matches of the year. The UH win came via a 5-0 sweep in Honolulu on the opening day of the season. The Bruins won two matches on Saturday to stave off elimination and ousted two-time defending NCAA champs USC, 3-1.