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ILH volleyball teams get a life lesson at tournament


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POSTED: Sunday, October 25, 2009

A teacher. A teammate's mom.

La Pietra had plenty of reasons to care about cancer survivors and patients before yesterday, but the Panthers went ahead and did a little more. The inaugural Bump, Set & Spike for the Cure exhibition volleyball tournament drew some of the state's top teams and opened a few more eyes about breast cancer.

Top-ranked Punahou split its two sets with No. 4 Hawaii Baptist, with the Buffanblu winning 30-20 and the Eagles taking the second game 34-32. All six teams in the event used reserves liberally.

Second-ranked Kamehameha defeated Word of Life 30-22, 31-29. Host La Pietra edged Moanalua 32-20 before losing to Na Menehune 30-21. The tourney benefited Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists.

Two La Pietra players, twins Brittany and Brooke Mendoza, have seen their mother, Michele, battle the disease off and on—four times—over 12 years. Michele Mendoza recently underwent radiation treatment, facing a recurrence of cancer.

“;When I was sick the first time, they were 4,”; she said. “;Brooke would make me put the wig on. Now, I'm not shy talking about it. I'm not going to give up hope. I want to see my grandchildren in this world.”;

Amy Miner, a La Pietra teacher, was a speaker between matches.

“;When my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer (in the 1990s), back then it was hush-hush. Now we have a support network and it makes a difference to know you're not alone,”; Miner said. “;I'm really excited there's such a concerted effort to educate our students. That's how you beat breast cancer.”;

Kamehameha was grateful for the action.

“;It's an honor for us to be in this great event,”; Warriors coach Chris Blake said. “;Once the lights are on, the juices get going and it feels like another match. But Amy's talk puts everything in perspective.”;

“;It's good to hear that lady talk,”; Moanalua coach Tommy Lake said. “;We've played so many serious matches, but she gives great perspective.”;

The intensity of play was surprisingly high considering the two-set maximum and casual atmosphere. Punahou's reserves were on the floor for most of its matches, and when a line call went against the Buffanblu, the starters on the bench were in an uproar.

Coach Jim Iams quickly silenced his team.

“;It's almost 10 full days between our last ILH match and the state tournament,”; Iams said.

Punahou outside hitter Juliana Behrens suffered a minor hip injury at practice on Friday and didn't play yesterday. Iams expects her to be ready for the state tourney, where Punahou will likely be the top seed in the Division I battle.