Kelia Giusta had to sit and wait.
A sore knee for the Moanalua outside hitter could have been problematic. Coach Alan Cabanting took a calculated risk, resting Giusta on Monday in the quarterfinal round.
Moanalua outlasted a gritty Kaiser squad 25-22, 25-22, 25-11. Giusta returned on Tuesday for the OIA semifinal battle with Mililani and helped Na Menehune to a 21-25, 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12 win.
Sophomore Malu Garcia had 24 kills and Giusta had 20 kills, including six in the fifth set.
“I feel great. That was a really, really fun game to play. Our team was amazing and our energy was great,” said Giusta, a 5-foot-11 senior.
Kahuku awaits unbeaten Moanalua (12-0) in Thursday’s final.
“We’ll rest and practice hard tomorrow to get ready for the next day. Our girls need to keep the energy up,” Giusta said. “I’m hungry for it.”
The combination of Giusta and Garcia from all angles required the precision of setter Allexis Iramina (43 assists) and consistent back row play. Libero Zoe Slaughter’s passing was crucial against one of the best serving teams in the state.
“I remember watching a Mililani game,” Iramina said. ‘They had 22 aces.”
“They’re good,” Slaughter added. “But I think we handled it really well. They do a lot of deep serves and this is the first team we had to challenge ourselves to put more emphasis on the first pass. They’re consistent. They’re smart players on that side.”
After two matches in two nights, Moanalua players were wrapped in ice after the tough win over Mililani, moving like mummies. Backs, legs, shoulders aching after outlasting one of the hottest teams in the islands. Garcia was constant, bringing her left-handed swing with the kind of placement more common for an older outside hitter. Giusta had just three swings in the opening set with no kills.
“Going back to the first set, we weren’t ready and disciplined. In the second set, our girls started having more discipline and having more trust in each other, keeping the energy up. We were talking about who wants it more,” Giusta said.
Garcia’s promising freshman season was halted by the pandemic. With each big match, her confidence is growing.
“This competition is very different compared to during the (regular) season,” the 6-foot outside hitter said.
The last time Moanalua met Kahuku during league play was in the 2019 playoffs.
“My sophomore year, we lost to them in the finals,” Slaughter recalled. “It was definitely a good match, especially how hard everybody played.”
Kahuku and Kapolei were in the first set of their semifinal match in the gym.
“That’s anybody’s game right now. I wouldn’t take anything from those teams,” Slaughter said.
Kahuku went on to knock out Kapolei, the top seed in the West, in four sets.
Coach Alan Cabanting has guided Moanalua to girls volleyball league titles three times, in 2014, ’15 and ’17.
OIA Division I playoffs
|1||Nov. 24||Campbell (W4) vs. Kaiser (E5)||Kais 25-12, 25-19, 25-16||Farrington|
|2||Nov. 24||Pearl City (W6) vs. Farrington (E3)||Far 25-22, 25-20, 25-13||Farrington|
|3||Nov. 24||Kalani (E4) vs. Nanakuli (W5)||Kaln 25-12, 25-15, 23-25, 25-13||Waianae|
|4||Nov. 24||Waianae (W3) vs. McKinley (E6)||Wain 25-16, 25-13, 25-22||Waianae|
|5||Nov. 29||Mililani (W2) vs. Farrington||Mil 25-16, 25-10, 25-18||Moanalua|
|6||Nov. 29||Moanalua (E1) vs. Kaiser||Moan 25-22, 25-22, 25-11||Moanalua|
|7||Nov. 29||Kahuku (E2) vs. Waianae||Kah 16-25, 25-11, 20-25, 25-17, 15-10||Kapolei|
|8||Nov. 29||Kapolei (W1) vs. Kalani||Kapo 25-14, 23-25, 22-25, 25-11, 15-7||Kapolei|
|9*||Nov. 30||Farrington vs. Kaiser||Kais 22-25, 27-25, 31-29, 18-25, 15-13||Pearl City|
|10*||Nov. 30||Waianae vs. Kalani||Wain 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-19||Pearl City|
|11||Nov. 30||Mililani vs. Moanalua||Moan 21-25, 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12||Moanalua|
|12||Nov. 30||Kahuku vs. Kapolei||Kah 25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23||Moanalua|
|13*||Dec. 1||Kaiser vs. Waianae||Wain 25-20, 25-22, 25-20||Kapolei|
|14*||Dec. 1||Mililani vs. Kapolei||Mil 24-26, 25-22, 17-25, 27-25, 15-13||Kapolei|
|15||Dec. 2||Moanalua vs. Kahuku||Kah 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-20||Moanalua|
|* — consolation|
OIA Division II playoffs
|1||Nov. 24||Roosevelt (E2) vs. Waialua (W3)||Roos 24-26, 26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 16-14||Radford|
|2||Nov. 24||Radford (W2) vs. Kailua (E3)||Rad||Radford|
|3||Nov. 29||Leilehua (W1) vs. Roosevelt||Lei 25-22, 25-11, 25-16||Kalaheo|
|4||Nov. 29||Kalaheo (E1) vs. Radford||Kalh 26-24, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15||Kalaheo|
|5*||Dec. 1||Roosevelt vs. Radford||Rad 25-23, 25-21, 25-18||Kapolei|
|6||Dec. 2||Leilehua vs. Kalaheo||5:30 p.m.||Moanalua|