Kalani clinches state tourney berth
»Comeback earns Castle state berth
When Kalani found itself against the wall, the Falcons took out their sledgehammer.
Kalani dropped Kailua last night in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red volleyball tournament fifth-place game, 25-18, 25-22, to clinch the OIA's final automatic berth to the New City Nissan Girls Volleyball State Championships in Hilo.
Putting teams away had been a consistent problem all season for Kalani (10-6), but when the Surfriders (7-9) rallied to tie Game 2 four times, the Falcons found a way to respond with a lead each time.
"We've been trying to push through things like that all season," coach Janeen Waialae said. "Trying to teach them to have that fighter attitude and play with your heart. That's been our key these last few games -- it's all gonna come down to heart. Who wants it the most."
Junior hitter Tina Pulu led the way with eight kills, while Chelsie Vea added six, Lichelle Nishiyama five and Rhianna Farm four for a well-balanced attack.
"Each time they got a run on us, then we'd all come together and we'd pull it together in the end," Pulu said. "It's been a good tournament. We started off rough, but we're ending pretty strong and we made it to states now, so we're pretty excited."
Kailua will play the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up for the final playoff spot on Monday at 3 p.m. at Radford. It will be Waiakea or Kamehameha-Hawaii, Surfriders coach Melanie Taufaasau said.
Kalani, the Red East's fourth-place team, bested West foes Leilehua and Kapolei earlier in the playoffs to put them in position for the coveted berth. Their flexible formations, featuring two setters and alternating liberos, seemed to confuse Kailua at times.
Kailua junior Ashlin Akau had a team-high seven kills, while sophomore Sherie Recca added five. But the Surfriders failed to capitalize at critical moments when they rallied to knot things up, particularly for the final time at 20-20 in Game 2.
Pulu pounded two kills and Vea had a kill and an ace before the match ended on an attack error.
"Our passing just broke down," Taufaasau explained. "They weren't communicating with each other like how they were before. It's just little things we need to execute (before Monday)."
Vea was relieved that they were able to end things before going to a third and deciding game.
"Usually, every second game we get down, or we don't do as well as the first," said the sophomore. "This game, we wanted bad, so we told everybody to keep pushing and don't give up. Good thing we didn't go to a third set, because that's where we struggle."
The Falcons were indeed solid in the opening game, turning a 16-15 edge into comfortable margin with a 9-3 run to finish it off.
Pulu wanted no part of the BIIF runner-up for the final state berth, despite the game being on Oahu.
"(Getting the berth was) really important," she said with a laugh. "We'd have to play (Kamehameha-Hawaii or Waiakea) and ... no thanks."
Comeback earns Castle state berth
Castle rallied after dropping the opening game to claim the OIA White's third and final berth in the New City Nissan Division II Girls State Championships with a 21-25, 25-16, 25-15 comeback win over Kalaheo at McKinley.
The Knights jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the final game and maintained pressure until junior Osana Aukuso served up an ace for the match-winner.