HHSAA BOYS VOLLEYBALL
Vikings get behind Salas to beat Na Alii and advance to semifinals
After a convincing victory in Game 1, Hilo appeared to be on its way to a rout of Aiea.
But a handful of mistakes in the second frame allowed Na Alii to make a match of it, and forced the fourth-seeded Vikings to labor for the eventual 25-17, 22-25, 25-22 victory in the Division II quarterfinal round of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships last night at Kamehameha's Kekuhaupio Gym.
Hilo (13-5) was buoyed by outside hitters Cody Figueroa and Emrick Salas, who each posted 10 kills. With the hard-earned win, the Vikings advance to play Maryknoll in a semifinal game tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Kamehameha.
"We have a young team, and our young guys were panicking (when Aiea rallied), but overall we did well and everybody did their jobs," said Hilo head coach Budgie Baker. "Aiea dug everything we gave them, and I liked the competition. I expected them to do really well, and after they won the second game, I was just happy we came back (in the end)."
Hilo ran away with the first game after jumping out to a quick 10-5 lead. The Vikings picked up five kills from Salas, who was able to overpower the Na Alii defense with his tomahawk slams. Hilo increased its lead to 19-9, and made sure the deficit was too large to overcome.
But instead of fading, Aiea countered quickly out of the gates in the second game, and established an early 10-4 lead. Na Alii took advantage of key errors by Hilo, including five lifts and a double-hit, as it increased the margin to 21-16. The Vikings rattled off four straight points to pull within a point of the tie, but Aiea scored three of its own and took the game on a net violation by Salas.
"That wasn't expected," said Salas of Aiea's momentum shift to win Game 2. "We were on that high at the time, (and after they came back) we still battled and worked hard even though we were down."
Both squads traded points in Game 3, until Hilo established some breathing room with a 5-1 run and a 17-12 lead. But Na Alii hung in and knotted the score at 19, and then again at 21.
The Vikings had enough energy when it mattered, though, and used a 4-1 run -- which was capped by an emphatic slam from Figueroa -- to take the match.
"When we were down, we picked each other up, and we wanted it more, I guess," said a relieved Salas. "We wanted this game so bad. We have worked hard all season, and it shows with this game. We rallied, hustled, and are a really scrappy team."
With the loss, Aiea falls to 9-6 and drops into the race for fifth place. In defeat, Na Alii got a titanic effort from senior Pili Taitin, who pounded out a match-high 15 kills.
Maryknoll 2, Kalani 0
The top-seeded Spartans made quick work of the Falcons last night, with an efficient 25-14, 25-15 sweep in the other quarterfinal match held at Kamehameha.
Maryknoll senior Simeon Ke-Paloma racked up a match-high 10 kills and also picked up a service ace as his team improved to 14-7. Teammate Shelby Nakakura chipped in with six kills of his own, and Matthew Garcia helped in the cause with four service aces.
Kalani (12-3) was led by sophomore Max Fujio, who picked up three kills in the loss. The Falcons play Aiea tonight at 6 at Kamehameha for the right to play in the fifth-place game tomorrow night.
Hana 2, Waimea 0
The second-seeded Dragons improved to 10-0 by edging the Menehunes 25-22, 25-19 in a quarterfinal at Radford.
Hana takes on Waianae in a semifinal match at Radford.
Waimea (9-1) plays Mid-Pacific today at 6 p.m. at Radford, with the winner going to the fifth-place match.
Waianae 2, Mid-Pacific 1
The third-seeded Seariders remained undefeated at 13-0 by coming back to beat the Owls 14-25, 25-21, 28-26 in another quarterfinal at Radford.
The Owls dropped to 10-11.