Sage Hill wins 5th Annual Maui Volleyball Invitational

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Photo by Ashley Morishita

The Lightning of Sage Hill High School hold their first place trophy at the 5th Annual Kamehameha Maui Volleyball Invitational. The Newport Beach school, defeated Orange County, Calif. neighbors, the Edison High School Chargers in 2 close sets, 25-20 and 25-23, August 16, at Ka'ulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium in Pukalani, Hawai'i.

The Lightning of Sage Hill High School placed first overall at the 5th Annual Kamehameha Maui Volleyball Invitational Tournament defeating second-place runners-up Edison High School overall and in the top-bracket Ikaika Division. Both Orange County, Calif. teams rose to the top this weekend in three days of play at the Kamehameha Schools Maui high school gym.

Sage Hill senior Kekai Whitford said that because they are still in their preseason, this was their first time playing collectively and competitively this school year.

Head coach Dan Thomassen said that three years ago, they placed fourth when they first participated in the tourney, but at the same time, they fell in love with Maui island.

It was also a good experience for the girls who he brought three years ago. They played as seniors in this year’s tournament.

Regretful that this was her last visit to the Maui Invitational, Whitford said, “It felt really good coming in playing different teams we donʻt normally play.”

“Win or lose, we were going to love the tournament either way,”  Coach Thomassen said. He also said he looks forward to coming back and competing again with the Lightning girls.

Sage Hill’s final opponent, Huntington Beach’s Edison High School, battled it out in both of the final sets, keeping the score tight throughout. In the second set, the score tied over and over as the two teams went point for point.

“It was a great tournament. It was our first time here, and…there were a lot of great teams and our team as well did a great job,” said Head Coach Matt Skolnik. He said he also looks forward to coming back with his team and adds that Maui is a great venue, the Kamehameha Maui Campus is beautiful,  and the tournament is well run.

In addition to Sage Hill, two teams from Maui, five Oʻahu teams, a Kauaʻi team, two other California teams, and one team from Texas also participated.  The teams finished as follows:

IKAIKA DIVISION (top bracket)

  1. Sage Hill High School, Newport Beach, Calif.
  2. Edison High School, Huntington Beach, Calif.
  3. University Laboratory School of UH Mānoa, O’ahu
  4. St. Stephenʻs Episcopal School, Austin, Texas
  5. Kailua High School, O’ahu
  6. Laguna Blanca, last year’s first place winners, Santa Barbara, Calif.

HO’OIKAIKA DIVISION (lower bracket)

  1. Kalaheo High School, O’ahu
  2. Kamehameha Maui
  3. Hāna High School, Maui
  4. Radford High School, O’ahu
  5. Castle High School, O’ahu
  6. Kapaʻa High School, Kaua’i

(See full tournament results by clicking here.)

On the final day of the tournament, held August 14-16, the Maui Warriors defeated Hāna High School in their first match. The two teams were tied after the first two sets. The Dragons won the first set, 25-20, but the Warriors came back to win the second and third sets, 25-19 and 15-8, and advance to the final game against Kalaheo.

In their final game against the Mustangs, Kamehameha was outmatched in both sets, and the game and Ho’oikaika championship went in Kalaheoʻs favor, 25-15 and 25-16, leaving the Warriorsʻ standing at 2-8 in this weekendʻs tournament.

“It was pretty awesome, a lot of really, really good competition,” said Coach Bala Spencer, Warriorsʻ head coach and event organizer. “Some of the best volleyball we’ve seen in a long time here on Maui.”

Coach Bala said that the level of talent seen during this short preseason was “unbelievable.”

Though the Maui Warriors placed 8th, not 1st, overall, he said he believes that volleyball is more a game of attitude than it is ability, and he still feels that the season ahead can hold great things for the young team. (See related story by clicking here.)

The Warriors are counting down to their regular season, which begins at Ka’ulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium, Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m.