When the pandemic extended beyond 2020, Sierra Scanlan‘s heart broke a little.
Then a junior, the Kamehameha setter opted out of athletics in the spring while the ILH moved the girls volleyball season from fall of ’19 to the spring of ’20. Kamehameha won the ILH title without Scanlan.
But fast-forward to this fall, and the boarder from Puna on the Big Island is a key part of Kamehameha’s title chase. Sitting in the bleachers at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium on Tuesday night were her mother, Eden, and her father, Michael.
With players allowed to bring two guests each for the first time this season, the second-ranked Warriors responded with a five-set thriller, outlasting No. 1 Punahou 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 15-9. Kamehameha (5-2) moved into a first-place tie with Punahou as the ILH title race heads toward the finish.
Scanlan, now a senior, had 33 assists and junior Marley Roe tallied 30. Their US national team member, Devin Kahahawai, belted 34 kills to lead the Warriors.
“This game, we did a lot better on defense. That’s been one of our main focuses. In the hard times, we executed really well and we scrambled for the ball,” Scanlan said. “Our blockers did a great job of posting. That way we were able to do the different reads and things like that.”
Roe rolled her right ankle on after a kill that gave Kamehameha a 13-7 lead in the fifth set, but says she will be ready for practice. The injury happened as she was celebrating near the scorer’s table.
“This honestly happens a lot,” said Roe, who says the pain level is just a 2 out of 10. “I’ll be fine.”
Kamehameha’s depth, and the improving play of every player, has been key since outside hitter Maui Robins suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago.
“I feel like our team, we have a lot, a lot to use. Even though we’d love to have Maui, our machine side is awesome. That’s what we call our 2s, basically, but they’re not just 2s. They’re also very good. They work just as hard as the 1s. We have a lot to work with,” said Roe, who also had five kills and two aces.
Coach Chris Blake‘s team continues to peak.
“I definitely think we have evolved. It is a bummer that we don’t have Maui, but I think she’s a really good leader even when she’s off the court. She supports and encourages us all the time,” Scanlan added. “The reason we won this five-set match is we’ve been working really hard with the weights and running outdoors, getting our cardio. We really push each other and our focus was to stay connected and play for each other.”
Sitting in the middle of the bleachers across the benches were Michael and Eden Scanlan. Each player of both teams was allowed to have two guests. Proof of vaccination, masks and social distancing — all required.
“I’m really excited because I’m actually from the Big Island and my flew up here. They’re really excited to watch the game,” Sierra Scanlan said.
Her mother and father boarded their flight to Oahu after finishing their work shifts on Tuesday.
“We actually found out from (assistant) coach Uila (Peaua). She told us the ILH was going to make a ruling. As soon as we got the ruling from (co-athletic director) Ed (Paola), we booked our flights,” Eden Scanlan said. “We came in at 5, right after work.”
Sierra Scanlan is a boarder at Kamehameha’s dormitory. She sat out her junior season of volleyball, as some student-athletes did during the pandemic. Seeing her play for Kamehameha was a dream come true.
“I think I was a little more calm than I expected. I thought I was going to be way more nervous for them. They came out and they did good, so that made it easier. She’s the loud parent,” Michael Scanlan said, pointing to Eden. “She coaches volleyball. I don’t know volleyball that good, so I just copy whatever she says.”
“There’s nothing like high school volleyball,” Eden Scanlan said.
“It was really good seeing her play. The competition up here is way better than the Big Island, to me. It was really nice to see her play at this level,” Michael Scanlan said.
Sierra Scanlan had 33 assists in No. 2 Kamehameha’s five-set win over No. 1 Punahou. With a limited number of spectators now allowed, her parents Michael and Eden flew in from the Big Island to see her play. @KSKAthletics @HawaiiPrepWorld @StarAdvSports pic.twitter.com/b5HZLQTPzH
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) October 21, 2021
After a late-night meal and a stayover at a relative’s house, the Scanlans flew back to the Big Island on the first flight Wednesday morning. They plan to make the most of the remainder of Sierra’s final season at Kamehameha. They will fly to Honolulu for Kamehameha’s match at ‘Iolani on Friday. There will be more matches after that.
“Next week is her senior game. We’ll be back for that, too,” Eden Scanlan said. “We’ve got to yell.”
Scanlan’s precision on sets is always with composure, but she also celebrates a kill by her teammates with the most enthusiasm.
“Our message for her is to support and encourage her teammates, and just keep working hard,” Eden Scanlan said.
“We’re really proud of her,” dad added.
Sierra Scanlan had a message for her mom and dad.
“Thank you for always supporting me. I love you guys.”