Kapolei continues to push the envelope of success and ability in Oahu Interscholastic Association volleyball.
The Hurricanes opened the regular season in dominant fashion with a 25-15, 25-18 victory over perennial OIA West power Mililani on Wednesday night.
What’s more is that they did it on the Trojans’ home court.
“It’s big any time you can beat them or Kahuku,” Kapolei coach Naidah Gamurot said.
A win over Mililani had never happened in the career of Hurricanes junior setter Olivia Transfiguracion. The Trojans had swept Kapolei in the regular season three years in a row before winning in three sets last year.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” she said after smoothly finding her hitters all night.
Even though the Trojans finished ahead of Kapolei in the regular season a year ago, it was the Hurricanes who advanced farther in the state Division I tournament. Kapolei lost in the quarterfinals to Kamehameha, and Mililani was ousted by Kalaheo in the first round.
Now, the Hurricanes have the upper hand.
“They trust in each other,” Gamurot said. “They can tell each other straight up on the court, help me, help me. They don’t take anything personal. The girls on the bench, I’m not going to hear a single complaint from them. Everybody knows what their roles are.”
Kapolei showed it has many points of attack. They went to three seniors often on Wednesday — middle Michelyn Pilila’au and outside hitters Alexis Mareko and Amryi Paris.
Pilila’au, in particular, was close to indefensible.
“She came to us her sophomore year,” Gamurot said. “She could hit, but couldn’t do anything else. She couldn’t pass. She couldn’t block. She couldn’t serve. She’s got the whole game now. Her attitude is changed now. She has really grown up and taken a leadership role on the court. She was always a happy person out there, but maybe goofing off a little too much. She came back, she worked on her skills, and took it all seriously. Blocking was her last thing to learn, but she’s got it. Maturity was something that just turned on for her and now she’s a leader and a big stabilizer on the team.”
Gamurot also had positive words for the other three previously mentioned girls.
“Olivia started off her freshman year as a setter. I would tell her to set this here and do that there. And now she knows the system and the girls. Her communication is really good. Before I was teaching on the bench with her the whole time. Now we’re just tweaking because she’s got it.
“We moved Mareko from middle to outside, and when she’s clicking, it’s a mean hit. Amryi was starting to have a breakout season last year but hurt her ankle. She came back and started to take off in the playoffs, but then she hurt her shoulder.”
Mililani coach Val Crabbe called the Hurricanes a “well-oiled machine.”
She also thought that, perhaps, the Trojans — even though they knew going in that Kapolei was a solid team — weren’t quite ready for the visitors.
“I guess it was kind of a wake-up call for us,” Crabbe said. “Everybody has known Kapolei has been knocking at the door, knocking at the door, and every year they improve. A lot of (the Trojans) I think they’re under the assumption that (beating Kapolei just happens). I’ve been here for 10 years and seven times, we’ve won the West. I asked them (after the match), did you assume we were going to win? I know they expected a good match. Kudos to Kapolei.”
History may be repeating itself in a certain way for the Trojans.
“We are toying with a new setter,” Crabbe said about sophomore Aysia Miller. “She has done a really good job and she’s only been doing it for a month. She was an outside hitter. We did the same thing with Hope Carter, who we moved from outside hitter to setter as a sophomore. It was rough at first for Hope.”
Carter went on to become an All-Star performer for the Trojans before graduating this spring.
Kapolei hosts Waipahu next Wednesday. On the same night, Mililani visits Pearl City.