Kamehameha remained undefeated at 7-0 on Thursday night, batting down a girls volleyball challenge from Interscholastic League of Honolulu foe Maryknoll, and now they’re aiming at bigger things.
It was a learning experience for the Spartans (2-5), who pulled off an upset of No. 6 Punahou earlier this season and had a 15-12 lead on the Warriors in the first set in Thursday’s 25-21, 25-15 loss.
Under head coach Luis Ramirez, No. 4 Maryknoll took the defending Division I state champion Warriors to three sets in an earlier matchup and they did the same to No. 3 ‘Iolani.
The Spartans are working hard to get over that hump.
“It’s a mental game for us,” Spartans setter Jhenna Gabriel said after Thursday’s loss. “We know we can do it physically because we have all the talent we need, so it’s just sticking together more as a team and putting the pieces together because volleyball is kind of like a puzzle. The confidence level dropped in the second set and that was more of a team thing. When one person is down, the whole team goes down, so we gotta be there to pick each other up every time.”
Gabriel, Rhyenne Filisi, Moana Tootoo, Tasha McClendon and Dakota Viena were key parts in Maryknoll’s effort despite the loss.
Ramirez pointed to one key play at the end of the first set that kind of sums up the Spartans’ inability to finish off their opponents.
“We were down 23-22 and had a good look at a free ball and we botched that,” he said. “We overpassed it and that is where it kind of turned things around. My challenge is to try to teach them to get through that.”
As for Kamehameha, the “process” that head coach Chris Blake consistently talks about continues.
“We always focus on our process and errors are actually a part of our process, so we want to make sure the girls are trusting in each other,” he said. “We wanted to be able to solidify a few things at the end part of the first set and we came back to pull that out, which we were fortunate to do. And we continued that momentum going on. We played really good defense against a very good team in tough situations. It’s a great team win for us.
“We still have a long way to go in our season and a long way to go to improve. We have to continue to improve every day in our gym.”
And defending that state title is certainly on their minds.
“That’s our motivation,” Warriors outside hitter Kayla Afoa said. “We have our goals that we set in the beginning of the season and of course that is to win the ILH and take states.”
Going 7-0 to start the ILH season is a good place to start.