O’ahu teams dominate 2012 Maui Volleyball Invitational

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Photo by Mehana Lee

Freshman Lekaleka Kina-Falefa of Mid Pacific Institute goes for a kill during the Po’okela Division championship round against Hawai’i Baptist Academy during the 2012 Maui Volleyball Invitational at Ka’ulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium on Saturday, August 18, 2012.

Ms. Kris Galago

By Mehana Lee, News Editor

Mid-Pacific Institute emerged at the top of 16 teams from Hawai’i and the West Coast gathered at three different upcountry gyms for the 2012 Maui Volleyball Invitational, August 16-18, 2012. Kamehameha Maui hosted the three-day event at both campus gyms and the King Kekaulike High School gyms.

Teams competed on Thursday and Friday in pool play for seeding in the finals. On Saturday, teams competed for their division titles. There were four divisions in the tournament, ranging from the lowest scoring division to the highest: Maika’i, Ho’oikaika, Ikaika and Po’okela.

Mid-Pacific Institute placed first in the Po’okela Division and Hawai’i Baptist Academy repeated their second-place finish of last year’s tournament.

Mid-Pacific Institute played two back-to-back games on Saturday. They took on Castle High School during the semifinals and won in two sets, 25-18 and 25-19, to advance to the finals where they took on Hawai’i Baptist Academy, the 2007-2009 Division II state champions. Mid-Pacific won both of the evenly matched sets with the same score: 25-20.

“I think we did really well. We struggled in the beginning, but we worked hard as a team to come back together,” said senior Abigail Lawson of Mid-Pacific Institute.

The fast-paced game was intense during the two sets between Mid-Pac and HBA. Both teams were strong in blocks, digs and kills with minor errors. In the end, it seemed to all come down to which team had more recovery time between matches: Mid-Pac.

Previous to the finals, HBA had played four back-to-back games, but they still came out strong in their last match against Mid-Pac.

“We weren’t really used to playing four games in a row. We’re used to a lot of breaks in between, but I’m proud of my team. We pushed through,” said senior Tiana Limoz of Hawai’i Baptist Academy.

As for the winning team of the Po’okela Division, Mid-Pacific Institute left the gymnasium with a calabash trophy in hand, confidence beaming on their faces, and a win already under their belts before the official start of the 2012 girls volleyball season.

“I feel that the kids were improving every time that we were playing, so that’s our main goal; to improve,” said Mid-Pac Head Coach Luis Ramirez.

The Kamehameha Maui Warriors varsity team, playing as KS Maui I,  placed fourth overall in the Po’okela Division after losing to Castle High School in the final battle for third place.

The Maui Warriors found themselves out of contention for the championship after losing both sets, 25-22 and 25-19, in the semi-final round against HBA, a team they beat int he final match last year to become the 2011 tournament champions.

The Warriors made many avoidable mistakes from service errors to miscommunication on their calls. In their first set, they were behind HBA by as much as nine points at one point in the first half of the set.

“In the beginning it took us a long time to gain some momentum, but when we actually got it, it was already too late. We also had miscommunication. I think that all can be corrected. You know, you win some, you lose some,” said senior Kailee Tabaco.

During their final round against Castle High School, the KSM Warriors started to pick up momentum. Their loss in the first set was a close 22-25, but the Warriors came back during the second set and won, 25-20. The Warriors’ critical last set of the game was marred by hitting errors, like hitting into the net or missed timing. The Castle Knights won, 15-6, taking third place in the Po’okela Division and putting Kamehameha Maui in fourth.

“We know this tournament isn’t the whole season; it doesn’t define who we are. It shows what we got to work on, and I’m hoping the girls understand that we have a lot of work to do,” said Head Coach Bala Spencer.

The KSM girls came into the final day of the tournament as first seed and were the only Maui team left in the Po’okela division semi-finals.

Here are the final results from the 2012 Maui Volleyball Invitational, Saturday, August 18:

Po’okela Division

  1. Mid-Pacific Institute
  2. Hawai’i Baptist Academy
  3. Castle High School
  4. Kamehameha Schools Maui
  5. St. Francis High School
  6. St. Andrews High School

Ikaika Division

  1. Seabury Hall
  2. Laguna Blanca
  3. Oak Park
  4. University
  5. Seabury Hall II

Ho’oikaika Division 

  1. Granite Hills
  2. Hana High School
  3. St. Anthony

Maika’i Division

  1. King Kekaulike
  2. Moloka’i High School
  3. Lana’i High School
  4. Kamehameha Schools Maui II

Twenty schools were orignially scheduled to play, but after last-minute cancellations, including KSM’s toughest Maui competitors, Baldwin High School, 14 actually competed in the tournament. KSM and Seabury Hall split their teams in two in order to fill out the competition brackets.