Falanika Danielson leads five-set rally for No. 4 Mililani over No. 9 Kapolei

Mililani's Falanika Danielson (10) put down one of her 15 kills to help lead the Trojans to a five-set comeback win over Kapolei. It was the only two sets the Trojans lost during the regular season. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Adversity faced Mililani for the first time in the regular season, and the Lady Trojans almost buckled.

Down two sets to none, they leaned on seniors Falanika Danielson for 15 kills and Aysia Miller for 36 assists and two kills in an astounding 19-25, 14-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-8 win over No. 9 Kapolei at the Hurricanes’ gym on Monday night.

No. 3 Mililani improved to 5-0 and kept sole possession of first place in the Oahu Interscholastic Association West. Kapolei dropped to 4-1 despite playing some of its best volleyball of the season.

“We’ll continue to work hard and work with all of our players, and keep the energy together,” Mililani coach Val Crabbe said. “We had a lot of heart. Amazing, a lot of heart.”

Sophomore Aria Miller sparked the visiting Trojans with 15 kills and four assists, and senior setter Nicole Kimura was a key presence on the floor. Playing in a timely role, she freed up Aysia Miller to assume her other role as an opposite, leaving Kapolei’s big block guessing which way the set would go.

Kapolei’s balanced attack featured 14 kills by Kawehi Marinas, and 13 apiece by middle Kailana Andrade and Alizaysha Sopi (three aces). Setter Alexis Kepa tallied a match-high 41 assists.

Veteran Kapolei coach Naidah Gamurot was disappointed, but relieved to see what her team could do with a five-set match. Neither Kapolei nor Mililani had lost a set in OIA West play until Monday.

“I think it was the experience that pulled it out for Mililani. We told the girls what to do and we lacked discipline, but I was afraid of was, what if we don’t get our five-set game?” Gamurot said. “You kind of expect that with a young team.”

Kapolei took the first two sets, then got rocked in the third set as Mililani took a 13-4 lead and won fairly easily. In the fourth set, the home team took a 20-19 lead on a tip by Sopi, but Mililani rallied from a 24-22 deficit with two clutch kills and an ace by Aria Miller, and Danielson’s kill tied the match at 2-all.

The fifth set was total domination by the Lady Trojans.

The ‘Canes had a superb defensive effort overall. Kapolei’s libero, Ayana Nunuha, had a spectacular match, often digging in against the rocket shots of Danielson.

“Kapolei has a good, big block,” Crabbe noted.


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