Roosevelt makes case for No. 2 in division
Let there be no doubt who owns second place in the tightly-contested Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East -- for now, at least.
No. 6 Roosevelt (5-1) jumped out to quick and decisive leads in both games of a 25-15, 25-19 victory at No. 5 Moanalua (4-2) to move squarely behind unbeaten Kahuku with half of league play over.
Both teams had been dealt a loss by the Red Raiders in their previous game.
"After the Kahuku loss the kids came back revving to go," said Roosevelt coach Bryan Camello. "It was a big game and they were ready."
Senior hitter Meleana Yamashiro posted a match-high nine kills, and was one of seven Rough Riders with an ace. Roosevelt dominated the service battle 8-0 before two Moanalua aces came with the match's outcome all but decided. Na Menehune committed six service errors to Roosevelt's seven, but couldn't afford any while they played catch-up.
Fittingly, Rachel Domingo's uncontested ace on the baseline sealed Game 1 and Jacey Tagavilla's serve to the middle of the court dropped through to clinch the victory.
"Our whole goal was to send a message," Yamashiro said. "We bounced back. I had to push myself more because we weren't talking as much."
Hitter Emily Maeda added five kills and Tagavilla had two kills, two blocks and an ace.
Moanalua coach Tommy Lake wouldn't put the loss on the absence of 5-foot-8 senior Kaleinani Kabalis, a team leader, who is ineligable academically until after Moanalua's next game. Instead, he pointed at the crowd of about 200 -- including many vocal Rough Rider fans -- filing out of the gym as a factor.
"This is the biggest crowd we had and I think the girls felt a lot of pressure to try and perform well," Lake said. "Roosevelt's an extremely good ball-handling team, and they actually rallied really well (throughout).
Rough Rider leads of 5-1, 12-3 and 20-10 in Game 1 took the drama out of the contest early.
Camello was concerned about a letdown with Kabalis out, but the Rough Riders maintained their intensity throughout.
"She brings confidence, when she's on the court, when she gets rolling, they're very difficult to stop" he said. "She's the go-to player on their team, other girls have to step into that position, which is a difficult position."
It was apparent that Na Menehune were searching for a go-to player throughout the match. Their best options were Sarah Robinson (six kills) and Kaylee Ponce (five), but Moanalua lacked the fire that pushed it to win their first four OIA games.
Roosevelt setter Darcie Anderson picked up 14 assists and gave way to freshman Kanoe Pupuhi with the Rough Riders up 20-7 in the second game.
Moanalua responded with a 11-2 run to pull within four points at 22-18, but Camello called a timeout to calm things down and kept several reserves in the game to close it out ... and gain confidence as a result.
"Just trying to get girls accustomed to playing in the big games," Camello said. "You cannot replicate this feeling, this experience (in practice)."
Yamashiro slammed down her final kill and the teams exchanged service errors before Tagavilla ended it with a spinning release on her serve.