Warriors warm up for senior-less season; win vs Castle

Facing teams from three different states, the KS Maui girls volleyball team pulled out a win in the first two days of play at the 5th Annual Kamehameha Maui Volleyball Invitational as they look ahead to their first season without a senior player.

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Photo by Ashley Morishita

Coach Bala Spencer wishes luck to the varsity girls before Friday night’s third set against Castle High School. The Warriors won the set 15-13, breaking a tie and winning their first game of the 5th Annual Kamehameha Maui Volleyball Invitational Tournament.

The Kamehameha Maui girls volleyball team came away with their first win in their last of six matches on the second night of competition at the Fifth Annual Maui Volleyball Invitational yesterday. Schools from around the United States came to battle it out at this weekend’s rip-roaring tournament in Ka’ulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium hosted by Kamehameha Schools Maui.

Thursday night, Kailua High School, who took the win against the Warriors in their first preseason game, played with fire.  The Warriors lost the first set, but won their second set, 25-19, against Radford High during their second game on Thursday night. Radford took the win in the tie-breaker.  In the Warriors’ third game Thursday night, against St. Stephenʻs from Texas, they played their most aggressively, rallying in each set, but coming out on the losing end with the Spartans winning 25-20 in the first set and 25-23 in the second set.

The Warriors entered Friday night’s contest with only one set win for the tournament, so they dished it out with Kailua again in their first game, but Kailua still kept the upper hand against Kamehameha Maui.  Staying only a few points ahead in both sets, the Warriors kept Kailua on guard.  In the Warriors’ second game, they challenged Southern California’s Edison High, who delivered solid serves and hits to the Warriors, earning the Edison Chargers the win, 25-11 and 25-17.

After a break, the Warriors recollected themselves and delivered in the third game Friday night. No mercy was shown by either of the opposing teams in the Warriors’ last game of pool play against Castle High.  They played three sets. The Warriors brought in a close win in the first set, 25-23. Then, despite a late rally by Kamehameha, the Knights ran away with the second set 25-20. In the tie-breaker, the Warriors narrowly closed it out and won their first game of the tournament, 15-13.

This is the first year of the tournament in which the Warriors did not make it into the Ikaika division playoffs, and a large reason is the youth of the team.

“Weʻre very young,” Head Coach Bala Spencer said. “There are a lot of good athletes. Theyʻre scrappy, and they work hard.”

With six juniors at the helm, two starting freshmen (Shaina Uyechi and Aliah Ayau), and the rest of the team made up of sophomores, the 10-time Maui Interscholastic League champions have their work cut out for them this year. The lone returning senior, Savannah Dudoit, bowed out just before the tournament began due to an impending school transfer. That left Coach Spencer with the youngest team he’s ever had to coach, but he said he’s up for the challenge.

“I’m excited…weʻre not really coaching this team, I have to teach them,” he said after Friday’s tournament. “Theyʻre taking it one step at a time, play by play, and improving on every match and every set.”

With a team made of girls who are steadfast, have a lot knowledge about the sport, and have some fight within, hopes are high that they will play just as hard and aggressively as the rest of Maui’s varsity team. So far, junior Kaira Davis has shown that there is great potential with 13 kills in the tournament.

The Warriors later celebrated by eating Minit Stop potato wedges and drumsticks.

Be sure to catch today’s Championship action that’ll determine who will take title for the 5th Annual Kamehameha Maui Volleyball Invitational at Ka’ulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium. Ikaika division quarterfinals begin around noon.