HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalani's Violet Alama tried to block a hit by Roosevelt's Meleana Yamashiro last night.
Riders deny Falcons in 3
The Roosevelt Lady Riders went from being on the brink of elimination to advancing into the Oahu Interscholastic Association girls volleyball championship match as they won the final two of a three-game semifinal marathon last night.
The Lady Riders, the second seed out of the East, ousted fourth seed Kalani 20-25, 26-24, 29-27 in front of a vocal crowd at McKinley's Student Council Gymnasium.
With the win, Roosevelt (12-2) clinched a spot against Kahuku (13-1) in the OIA title game next Thursday at McKinley. Kalani (7-7) plays Moanalua (11-4) tomorrow in the third-place match. Both teams have already secured spots in the upcoming state tournament.
After winning a tight Game 2, Roosevelt held off Kalani, who fought back from what seemed like an insurmountable Lady Rider lead, to tie Game 3 at 24-24.
With Roosevelt needing only to side out to take the match, Kalani scored six straight points to force the match into overtime.
"It ain't our style to just do things easily," Roosevelt coach Bryan Camello said. "We make it fun for the crowd to come out and watch."
The Falcons, who had trailed for most of the final game, used all of their major weapons during the run, which ended with a put down by middle Violet Alama on an over-passed ball. Despite all the tenacious floor defense by both teams during the Kalani run, Justina Kalilimoku ended the run rather easily with a kill in the middle on a set play.
From there, the Falcons held off four more match points before setter Hoku Oleole ended it with a booming cross-court shot on the second contact.
What stood out for both coaches was neither team showed signs of quitting, each having to come back from huge deficits late in the game.
"Win or lose, it was a good game," Kalani coach Daryl Tamashiro said. "In 15-20 years from now, the girls, they're not going to remember that we won or lost. The reason they're going to remember this game is for the way we played, the way we battled back."
"The ball just fell our way. We got a few points here and there," Camello said. "Luckily, the ball bounced our way, and the kids just sucked it up and pushed hard. They earned this."
Brandi Pupuhi led the Lady Riders with 16 kills, followed by Kalilimoku with eight. The Falcons were led by Melia Iwamoto with 12 kills, and Meghan Koizumi and Charly Sampaga added nine and eight kills, respectively.
After losing the first game, and trailing 23-20 in the second, the Lady Riders scored four straight points to take the lead at 24-23 and gave them the first of their two game-points. The run, fueled by gutsy digs and touches off the block, paid off as Meleana Yamashiro picked up an ace to end Game 2.
"They didn't want to give up today," Camello said. "I told them it was their match to lose, and they believed it."