Here’s a roundup with coaches who survived the opening round of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball Division II State Championships on Wednesday night.
Maryknoll 3, Konawaena 0
The Lady Spartans (10-4) made school history by winning their first-ever state-tournament match 25-18, 25-23, 25-16 over Konawaena at Waipahu gym.
“Just winning the first ever state-tournament game for the girls program, I guess it is breaking new ground, taking steps to progress the program,” Spartans coach Kalepa Feguis said. “Maya (Akana) played opposite and she played well. Avery (Perreira) did her usual. Brooke (KImura) had some important kills for us at key times.”
Maryknoll’s relatively young squad went through the normal wave of emotions and adrenaline against the BIIF runner-up Wildcats.
“We definitely had some nerves. We have a sophomore loaded team. It was expected, and to be able to push through that, that was big for us,” Feguis said.
Next up is second-seeded Waimea, the KIF champion.
“I haven’t seen Waimea play. Everything was posted so last minute, so we’re trying to find film, so I’ll probably be up late looking for stuff on Waimea,” he said.
Damien 3, Leilehua 0
The Lady Monarchs (9-3) have made a key transition in the past month since a season-ending injury to senior middle Tiani Souza. Damien swept the OIA D-II champion Mules 25-13, 25-21, 25-19 at Kaimuki gym.
“Freshman Kaila Bajet-Kalama had one of her best matches of the year offensively. She definitely carried the load and led us in kills today,” Damien coach Chad Giesseman said. “Randi Wong, our right side, she was putting up a good block and offensively, she too had one of her better offensive nights. Our DS, AIyanie (Park), she probably led the team in digs. She was all over the place today.”
Leilehua’s powerful middle attack was a threat to Damien, particularly with Souza (torn ACL) sidelined. Before she was injured in the opening match of the ILH D-II playoffs, Damien was 8-1 and placed first in the regular season.
“We changed some things up with our blocking assignments, moving our taller players inside, then back out. Leilehua ran a lot of middle sets, so we had to squeeze in our outside hitters into the middle, sometimes three blockers going up with them,” Giesseman said.
The Lady Monarchs will meet fourth-seeded Hawaii Prep on Thursday at Kaimuki gym. HPA is the BIIF D-II champion.
“Leilehua is their league champion and, if we get past HPA, the BIIF champ, we will play the ILH champion (University),” Giesseman said.
Souza is missed tremendously on the court, but her spirit is irrepressible.
“She’s there,” Giesseman said. “She’s loud.”
Damien won the state title in the 2019 season, coach Don Faumuina‘s last with the Lady Monarchs.
Leilehua (9-4) will play Molokai in a consolation match at Kaimuki on Thursday afternoon.
Le Jardin 3, Kalaheo 0
The Bulldogs were on point from the start against their Koolau Mountain neighbors with a 25-12, 25-14, 25-13 victory over the OIA runner-up. Reese Diersbock led Le Jardin with 10 kills and Ryli Kalahiki tallied nine. Sydnee Walker chipped in five kills and Nicole Andersch added four. Gennezia Hawkins dished out 35 assists.
“I wasn’t sure how the kids were going to respond to the state-tournament atmosphere. I was a little worried going in, but after the warmup, it was clear the girls were in a good space. It was an inspired warmup and everyone was engaged,” LJA coach Lee Lamb said.
With more than two weeks to prepare since a wild five-set loss to University for the ILH D-II title, the Bulldogs have sharpened their game.
“I also liked that our first contact, serving and serve-receiving, was really good tonight,” Lamb said. “We’ve been working on a few things in serve-receive and it was nice to see them implement the thing we had been working on. I also liked that the girls made adjustments quickly in our blocking and defensive schemes. Our girls did a great job tonight against a solid Kalaheo team.”
No. 8 Le Jardin and No. 6 University entered the state tourney as one of only two D-II teams ranked in the Star-Advertiser Top 10.
Le Jardin will battle second-seeded Seabury Hall on Thursday night. LJA won D-II state titles in 2016 and ’17. Seabury Hall has not won a state title, but has often been a contender.
“We’re headed into the unknown. I don’t know much about the team in terms of x’s and o’s,” Lamb said. “I understand they have a solid middle, Kekua Richards, that’s 6 feet, 7 inches, and athletic. They also have an athletic outside in Skylar Conley and libero Ki‘i Rilveria that played under Ka Ulukoa (volleyball club) pre-COVID.”
There are nothing but tough draws at this point.
“Our first contact will have to be really good again tomorrow if we want to nullify Kekua. We know she’s going to score, so it’s just a matter of limiting the number of times she scores,” Lamb said. “I expect a good match.”
Radford 3, Molokai 0
The Lady Rams (8-6) swept the Farmers 26-24, 25-20, 25-22 at Kaimuki gym to advance.
“Vaa (Avegalio) stepped up tonight. She’s young, but when she gets everything together, she can be a beast,” Radford coach Travis Nishihara said.
Radford will take on top-seeded University, the ILH D-II champion, on Thursday at Kaimuki gym in a quarterfinal. Molokai was a much more unknown entity.
“It was tough not really knowing who we were going against. Knowing they are coming from a different island where we don’t see or hear of their games, pretty much going in blind was a hard one, but they all pulled through,” Nishihara said.
Now, deep into the 2021 season, many of the teams Radford lost to during the regular season and playoffs are now done. Kalaheo lost its opening-round D-II state-tourney match to Le Jardin — after beating Radford in the OIA playoffs. Leilehua lost to Damien earlier in the evening in another D-II matchup.
Nanakuli didn’t make the D-I state tourney.
Mililani and Kapolei play in the D-I quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Truthfully, all our players are the unsung heroes. Nobody thought we would be where we’re at. Dealing with all the COVID issues. They fought hard and they all deserve the appreciation for what they put out,” Nishihara said. “Molokai came out hard and fought to the end. They have a great group of ladies that I think can go far.”
Radford will face top-seeded University in Thursday’s quarterfinal round at Kaimuki gym.
“It was a tough fight for tonight’s win,” Nishihara said. “We need to focus on tomorrow’s match and get through it.”