The heat of the moment didn’t bother the ninth-ranked Damien Monarchs.
Rankings, playing on the road in a loud gym, no problem. The Monarchs’ attack caused disruptions for two-time defending Division II state champion — and sixth-ranked — Le Jardin, and Shelby Capllonch led the way with 16 kills in a 25-15, 29-27 sweep on Tuesday.
The hot, humid conditions were perfect for the visiting Monarchs, who hit .333. Middle Ilana Sagapolutele was timely with her five kills, and setters Elsa Radovan and Kaulana Kalulu-Sugai combined for 27 assists while connecting to the left, right and back row. Capllonch was especially effective from the 10-meter line, drilling three key kills during Damien’s rally in the second set.
That was enough to keep the Bulldogs at bay, and when she rotated to the front, the visitors were able to eke out a tough victory. The win earned Damien an automatic berth in the HHSAA D-II state tourney.
“Damien has no A/C either, so we shut off our fans and condition with them off. It’s just hot. We’re just used to this already,” said Capllonch, who seemed to get stronger late in the match. “Well, I’ve been kind of eating less. It’s more I’m trying to get in shape for college because I’m going to UNLV next year.”
Her location on back-row swings was uncanny.
“Honestly, the best area to hit is area 1, you always aim for the setter so they cannot set. That’s my trick, and it works. I see it before, during, after,” she said. “We’re just fighters. At HBA we went to 30. We don’t like losing.”
Kalulu-Sugai (three kills, one block), who had the right-side kill on a tough angle to end the match, and Radovan consistently went to her in the back row during a rally that turned a 21-16 deficit into a 21-all tie.
“It’s the intensity of the person,” Capllonch said. “If one person gets heated, I would feed her, too. Ilana was hot against Sacred Hearts, and they kept setting her and I said, ‘Yes!’ “
Nive Tuileta was key for LJA. The talented setter relinquished much of her duties to get 22 swings and finished with nine kills, three aces, 10 assists and one block.
“One thing they did different was their setter was hitting outside. (Tuileta) was hitting it and got a lot of kills off us. She got a lot of kills off us today,” Capllonch said.
LJA coach Lee Lamb saw his team come up just one win short of the automatic state berth. At 10-1, the Bulldogs will have to scrap through the second round of ILH D-II play to earn a league berth.
“This is a good game for us. One of the tricky things is you have to take care of your assignments at the net doing double blocks. We were peeling off instead,” Lamb said. “And our attackers have to show up.”
The home team hit .132 with 12 hitting errors.
“We were tippy-tapping too many balls. We need to swing to win,” Lamb added. “We have players who have done well in club ball, hut high school is a different animal.”