HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Baptist players celebrated after winning the state Division II volleyball title last night.
Hawaii Baptist rules Division II volleyball
Hawaii Baptist Academy made sure to keep a few things as it transitioned from Division I to Division II this year.
One of those was the Eagles' trademark stalwart defense, which HBA stamped all over the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Girls State Championships on its way to sweeping previously unbeaten Seabury Hall 25-18, 25-16 last night at McKinley.
» Consolation championship: University def. Honokaa 25-16, 25-21
» Fifth place: Hilo def. Waimea 25-22, 23-25, 25-23
» Third place: Word of Life def. Molokai 25-17, 23-25, 25-18
» Championship: Hawaii Baptist def. Seabury Hall 25-17, 25-16
» Most Outstanding Player: Sarah Palmer, Hawaii Baptist
» Alex Bolduc, Seabury Hall
» Kelly Chang, Hawaii Baptist
» Brennan Clark, University
» Keisha Miura, Hawaii Baptist
» Makamae Namahoe, Hilo
» Chanteal Satele, Word of Life
» Kelsy Takashima, Molokai
The crowd at Student Council Gym could be forgiven for mistaking the matchup as David vs. Goliath as the teams lined up for introductions -- top to bottom, the Spartans looked to be a head taller than the diminutive Eagles.
As it turned out, David knew how to play offense, too.
Sophomore Sarah Palmer, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, led the way with 11 kills and seven digs. C'era Oliveira added nine kills on .421 hitting with five digs. Middle blocker Leah Shizuru added four kills and libero Kelly Chang anchored the defense all night with several spectacular saves.
"We had the back row players yell out everything and tried to use the block to our advantage because we're not as tall as they were," said Palmer, the Eagles' tallest player at 5-foot-11.
Senior setter Keisha Miura set a flawless Game 2 on her way to 23 assists, while the Spartans had 15 as a team.
The Eagles trailed for most of the second game by one to three points -- but Miura wouldn't allow her team's offense to fall apart. The Eagles rallied to tie the game for the fifth time at 14-all, and Miura hit Oliveira twice and Shizuru once on impeccable sets. Miura added a crafty dumpshot (her third such shot) for a 22-16 lead.
"When we're down, we try to keep on cheering, be loud, be vocal, to keep the energy up," Miura said. "And I think that really encouraged us to get to game point and finish."
Hawaii Baptist closed it out on three straight kills from Palmer, with the last two points delivered by Miura as the delirious Eagles streamed onto the court.
The Interscholastic League of Honolulu has now captured the D-II title in each of its three years of play. St. Francis and Sacred Hearts were the previous winners. Seabury Hall is the first Maui team to reach the state Division II final.
Starting Spartan setter Anuhea Rilveria went out with a hurt left knee seven points into the game, which seemed to throw off Seabury's (14-1) attack. They were doomed by 13 attack errors in Game 1, as the Eagles were content to outlast the Spartans until a double hit, net violation, or lift call occurred. Alex Bolduc led Seabury with five kills and six digs.
"They were just playing a real diverse, effective game," Seabury Hall coach Scottie Zucco said. "I was extremely impressed with their offense. They have a great reputation as a good defensive team, but they used our block really well."
Hawaii Baptist moved down from Division I to II in the ILH this year, as it qualified by enrollment size after years of absorbing losses from the league's larger powerhouse teams.
The Eagles (17-4) still faced now three-time state champion Kamehameha, runner-up Iolani, and Punahou during the regular season, but dominated against the other Division II schools. In Coach Myles Shioji's mind, there was no question that the punishment helped in the long run.
"We got stuck in D-I for a while, but we never complained about it," he said. "We worked hard every day, and knew our time would come one day. Playing Kamehameha, Punahou, Iolani, that competition, it makes it so much easier for the girls when we play different teams."