OIA GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL
'Nervous' Rams use anticipation as fuel
The benefit of having no winning tradition in girls volleyball could've been a plus for the Radford Rams.
Instead, the Rams were nervous all day in school, anticipating a championship match for the first time.
The nerves finally shook out in the middle of their match, just in time for a 20-25, 25-23, 25-19 win over Kaiser for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II crown.
A raucous crowd at Farrington's gym saw Alzie Auelua and Melanie Fa'aliga lead the way with 14 kills apiece. Radford (14-1) secured the league's top seed for next week's Division II state championships.
"We started off scared. People were nervous at school, tired from practice," said Auelua, a senior outside hitter and middle blocker. "But coach said to play from our hearts."
Their coach, Sheri Sagayaga, could not have been more pleased with the turnaround in the program in her second season.
The win was a reversal from their regular-season matchup with Kaiser.
"The first time we played them, we had a little attitude," Sagayaga said. "They took it lightly. I'd rather teach them to be humble, even if we lose."
Chanelle Esteban led Kaiser (13-3) with nine kills and two service aces. Sharde Pratt added eight kills.
Kaiser took advantage of Radford's anxiety in the opening game, scoring just 12 of its 25 points on kills.
The Lady Cougars took charge of the second set with seven points in a row for a 16-10 lead. However, Auelua seized command. The senior pounded eight of her kills in the game, scoring four of her team's points in a 15-7 closing run.
Six of those points in the run came off Kaiser mistakes, and the Lady Cougars lost momentum going into the final game.
"Our talking and communication went down after the second game," Kaiser coach Sonja Sismar said. "There was more doubt and we lost some confidence."
Radford jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never let up. Fa'aliga, a sophomore, stepped up with nine kills and a roof in the third set. Esteban drilled two aces to help Kaiser get within 19-18, but the Cougars got no closer.
Auelua knocked down a kill from the back row, and Fa'aliga tipped another kill as the Rams went on a 6-1 run to end the match.
Courtney Kandler added five kills and two aces for Kaiser. "These girls, when they peak and their confidence is up, they're very hard to beat," Sismar added. "We have to keep our heads up. We'll meet Radford again in states, hopefully."