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HBA topples No. 2 Kamehameha


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Hawaii Baptist Eagles are giant killers again.

HBA, which upset 'Iolani a year ago, rallied to topple No. 2-ranked Kamehameha 20-25, 25-20, 26-24 last night, handing the Warriors their first loss in Interscholastic League of Honolulu volleyball play.

Sarah Palmer, the returning Star-Bulletin player of the year, led HBA (11-2) with 14 kills and 17 digs. C'era Oliveira added 11 kills and six digs and setter Kayla Kawamura amassed 24 assists and eight digs. The three seniors had been hoping for another big win for two-time Division II state champion HBA.

“;It's our senior year, the last few memories for high school,”; said Palmer, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter. She went to the floor and laid on her back after the match. “;I was amazed. I couldn't believe it. We made plays at the right time.”;

Taylor Akana led four-time D-I defending state champion Kamehameha (12-1) with a match-high 15 kills. Sophomore Misty Ma'a added 11 kills.

“;Hat's off to HBA. They played steady,”; Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said.

The Warriors got a crushing blow when starting setter Kelci Renshaw suffered a right ankle injury during warmups. Backup setter Briana Saifoli stepped in with 30 assists.

Sixth-ranked HBA finished strong in the final set. Kamehameha was up 22-21 when Palmer tied it with a swing that barely got over the net.

“;One foot the other way, and we get the point,”; Blake said.

Akana was long on her swing a moment later, and HBA led 23-22. After a Kamehameha timeout, Palmer stepped into a high set over the middle and looped the ball over the defense and just inside the left-corner lines.

;  Kamehameha got a kill from Ma'a on the right side and a kill by Akana to tie it at 24-all, but a net violation by Talia Jardin-Fermentez on a high pass by HBA gave the Eagles back the lead.

Palmer dug in and sent a bullet down that was dug and ricocheted back to her, and she finished the play and the match off with her final kill.

The celebration began immediately for the Eagles, who hadn't beaten Kamehameha during coach Myles Shioji's time as an assistant and head coach.

“;It's Kamehameha. They're the best team in the state 'til someone beats them,”; Shioji said. “;I'm not saying we're better. We have to keep it in perspective. It's a tough week with Word of Life (on Thursday) and St. Francis.

Kamehameha competed in the prestigious Durango Tournament (Las Vegas) last week and had lots of momentum and new wrinkles with Renshaw developing at setter this fall. Without her, they still led for most of the opening set, committing only two hitting errors. Up 21-20, Ma'a added two kills and Nicole Sniffen blocked Oliveira to give the Warriors a four-point lead. Cara Rosehill's ace ended the first set for the Warriors, who overcame four service errors.

HBA didn't panic, though.

“;We cleaned it up in the second game,”; Oliveira said.

“;I told them to stay calm and execute every point,”; Shioji said. “;We passed really well and that allowed us to get into our offense.

The Eagles soared to an 11-3 lead, but the Warriors closed to 13-10 after another block by Sniffen. Kawamura had an ace and Kamehameha had five combined hitting and serving errors as HBA opened an 18-11 lead. Kamehameha got no closer than three points as HBA evened the match.

The Warriors committed 10 hitting errors in the second set.

They took an 11-7 lead in the final set, but HBA called timeout and rallied. Sophomore C.J. Asuncion had two key kills, including one on a step-out play, to give the Eagles an 18-16 lead.

Kamehameha had just five hitting errors in the final set, but HBA's scrappy defense, led by libero Taryn Bohan (12 digs), kept the Eagles in the match.

“;That was great,”; Asuncion said. “;It's a game for the seniors to remember.”;