Honolulu - Emily Hartong's 23 kills powered No. 8 Hawaii to a 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-19) victory over visiting Cal State Fullerton Wednesday night to keep the Rainbow Wahine perfect in Big West Conference play.
In their first trip to Honolulu since 1995, the Titans (15-15, 9-8) took the first set behind seven kills by senior Kayla Neto and six by senior Torrie Brown but dropped the final three sets to remain winless against the Wahine in 29 tries since 1982.
The Rainbow Wahine (25-2, 17-0) bounced back, hitting no less than .286 over the final three sets to hand the Titans their second consecutive loss. Hawaii, playing in front of a crowd of 6,220 Wednesday night, has already clinched the Big West Conference championship and is now just one win away from becoming the league's first team since 1995 to post a perfect conference record.
Hartong hit .275 and took care of nearly half of Hawaii's kills and Kalei Adolpho (10 kills, .389), Jane Croson (9 kills) and Jade Vorster (7 kills) took care of the rest. Hawaii hit at a .264 clip as a team, while holding the Titans to under .200 for the match at .189.
Neto racked up another double-double (16 kills, 12 digs) on Wednesday, her team-leading 21st of the year. Brown posted her second consecutive 10-kill effort, by far her two most productive matches of the season and Leah Best added nine kills and hit a match-high .412.
Hawaii had the advantage at the net, out-blocking Fullerton 13.0 to 6.0. Vorster had a match-high seven blocks and was followed by Jane Crone and Adolpho who each had a share of four block assists. Best Neto and Holland Crenshaw each had two for the Titans.
Both teams have just one regular-season match remaining. The Titans return to Southern California on Thanksgiving and will be at Cal State Northridge on Saturday night (7:00 p.m.). Hawaii will finish with UC Riverside at home on Friday.
NOTES: Cal State Fullerton finished the season 0-2 against Hawaii… All-time against the Rainbow Wahine, the Titans are 0-16 at home, 0-11 away and 0-2 in neutral venues since 1982… Saturday night's match at Northridge will determine if the Titans can clinch its 5th winning season in the past seven seasons under Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman… There have been only six winning seasons in the program's history to date (since 1976)… With a win at Northridge on Saturday, the Titans can clinch its third winning conference season in its history. Fullerton has been .500 or better in each of the last four years and is guaranteed at least a .500 mark in 2012. ….