Farrington stops Moanalua


POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

Given the two regular-season meetings between Moanalua and Farrington, there was no reason to believe that yesterday's Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference tournament third-round match would be anything but close.

Granted Na Menehune had swept the Governors in the two head-to-head matches, but Farrington had forced Moanalua to its only three-set win of the regular season and had pushed Na Menehune to the brink in a two-set loss.

But the last of those two matches was more than a month ago and the Governors proved that they have come a long way since then.

In a seesaw battle in which the momentum changed hands countless times and both teams shuffled between unstoppably good and maddeningly bad play, Farrington pulled out an emotional 25-18, 16-25, 25-20, 25-20 victory at the McKinley High gym yesterday.

The Governors (10-4 overall) held off the sixth-ranked team in the state, knocked off the OIA Red East division's top team and advanced to the semifinals, where it will play Kahuku next Tuesday at McKinley.

“;We lost to them twice in the regular season,”; said Farrington senior setter Brandy Vergado-Duclayan. “;But I guess the third time's the charm. Oh my gosh. This just feels so good right now.”;

Thanks to the double-elimination format, Moanalua (12-2) can still work its way to a league championship through the loser's side of the bracket. Na Menehune will play Mililani today at McKinley for the right to stay alive in the postseason.

Farrington nearly didn't even make it to yesterday's third-round match. The Governors had a thriller on Tuesday against Pearl City in which they eked out a victory in five sets, 21-25, 25-16, 19-25, 25-22, 15-12. Meanwhile, Moanalua cruised over Roosevelt in its second-round match.

But in yesterday's match, Farrington showed no fatigue from Tuesday's marathon, and Na Menehune carried none of the momentum from Tuesday.

In the first set, Moanalua dominated early and jumped out to an 8-3 lead, thanks to four kills, one ace and one stuffed block. But Farrington rebounded quickly with a stunning 12-2 run, spurred on in large part by Moanalua's mistakes. The Governors pulled ahead for a 15-10 lead, essentially sealing the first-set upset.

Farrington outside hitter Fenumiai Tofilau set the tone early, leading the way with five of her team-high 16 kills.

Moanalua cleaned up its mistakes in the second set, and Na Menehune's offense found its groove. Working quickly and efficiently, they hit just one errant spike while powering home 18 second-set kills, including five each from Gabby Matautia and sophomore Erin Perez.

Farrington, on the other hand, stumbled on the attack and couldn't find the rhythm it had in the first set. The Governors, after leading 7-6, managed just five kills — with five hitting errors — the rest of the game.

Continuing the teeter-totter battle of momentum, the Governors surged ahead to an 11-point lead in Set 3, only to see Moanalua storm back and close to a three-point deficit at 19-16. But the double-digit hole was too much to overcome, and Farrington finished the set with an exclamation point as Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo pounded her fifth kill of the game.

“;Farrington played really well,”; said Moanalua coach Tommy Lake. “;Fenumiai was torching us. She just kept hitting these shots. It wasn't like we played that poorly.”;

In the fourth and decisive set, the teams were tied seven times as they battled to a 15-15 stalemate. But a Moanalua service error, followed by a Tofilau kill and Fraustina Sagapolu's stuff block, gave the Governors just enough breathing room to hold on for the match.

Moanalua's Matautia led all hitters with 17 kills and teammate Perez added 16, but it wasn't enough to stop Farrington.

“;We had to pump ourselves up,”; said Tatupu-Leopoldo, who finished with 14 kills. “;Our motto was to go hard or go home. We had to prove that we belonged.”;