There’s no substitute for experience, which Hawaii Baptist has in droves.
The Eagles withstood a furious Word of Life attack in the first two sets and cruised through the third for a 25-23, 25-22, 25-12 sweep last night to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division II tournament. A near-capacity crowd at Dan Liu Gym endured sweltering humidity to see HBA, the regular-season winner, avoid a winner-take-all match against the Firebrands.
HBA (18-2), ranked No. 4 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10, won its third league crown in a row. A week from today, the Eagles begin their quest for a third-straight state title.
The Eagles did it last night with defense and balance. C’era Oliveira (13 kills, 17 digs) and Sarah Palmer (13 kills, 15 digs) led the way. Kayla Kawamura dished 25 assists and added nine digs and three kills.
“The humidity kind of affected our playing,” Palmer said. “But we were able to win at the end of the first two games. We’re more mature as a team than we were in preseason and we trust each other.”
Kainoa Ocasek had eight kills to lead Word of Life (13-5), which has already clinched a state berth. Adaiah Hanakahi, Kaena Kaina and Phoibe Fetu added six kills apiece. Fetu, one of just two seniors on the roster, had a team-high 15 assists.
“I think it’s a mental thing. We’ve got to learn to sustain, to play the whole game and not be satisfied with being close,” Word of Life coach Lee Ann Satele said. “Our defense was good and our right-side blocking in the first two games was good.”
The Firebrands got solid defense from Alexis Villa and Ocasek, as well as reserves Jedidah Hanakahi and Angel Savea.
HBA jumped to an 11-3 lead in the opening set, but the visitors rallied. Blocks by Kaina and Savea, plus four HBA hitting errors, helped the Firebrands go on an 8-1 run for a 21-19 lead.
Ocasek’s kill from the right side had Word of Life up 23-21, but HBA scored on the final four points of the game.
HBA sophomore Chris Kurosawa served the final three points — a net violation and two hitting errors by Word of Life.
The second game was close until HBA went on an 11-2 run — including two aces by Krystal Oyasato — for a 20-13 lead. Word of Life scored six points in a row to get within 20-19, but HBA scored the next three points, including an ace by C.J. Asuncion and held on to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
HBA changed up its serve, going short to keep Ocasek from getting easy swings.
“Coach Ryan (Scudder) calls the serves,” Eagles coach Myles Shioji said. “Kainoa’s going to get her swings, but we can try and make them more predictable.”
The third set was tied at 7 when HBA took command with a 6-0 blitz and ran away.
HBA won the regular-season matchup with Word of Life 21-25, 25-20, 25-10.