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BIIF volleyball: HPA’s Lee named D-II Player of the Year

November 11, 2017 - 12:05am

Hawaii Preparatory Academy senior Madi Lee always emptied her gas tank on offense and spent the rest of her time building roofs on the volleyball court, serving as a team bus driver.

The 6-foot-1 Ka Makani middle blocker carried HPA to the BIIF Division II championship against Konawaena, which prevailed for its fourth straight league title in an all-time defensive battle.

In five sets, the Wildcats and Ka Makani combined for 258 digs. That’s an unbelievably high total. For comparison’s sake, in the HHSAA D-II semifinals between Hawaii Baptist and Damien, there were 136 digs in five sets.

But it’s in the hitting department where Lee shouldered the biggest load. Against Konawaena, she took 76 of HPA’s 212 swings or 36 percent and produced 22 of her team’s 50 kills or 44 percent of the offense.

That’s a typical day at the office for Lee, one reason among many why she was voted the All-BIIF Division II player of the year, as selected by the Tribune-Herald, West Hawaii Today and league’s coaches.

“I’m super excited and honored to get player of the year,” she said. “I also kind of can’t believe it. Player of the year is crazy. I never thought I would get it.

“My team helped me the most. Sticking together and pulling each other out of a slump kept me going.”

Lee, who is a repeat All-BIIF pick, is joined on the first team by Ka Makani libero Julia Perry, who recorded 36 digs, and four Wildcats who also had stellar stats in the league finals.

Other first team members are Konawaena seniors Cherilyn Molina (25 kills, 39 digs), McKayla Ventura (16 kills, 29 digs), Anaselita Taetuna (44 assists, 17 digs) and sophomore Maile Grace (12 kills, 13 digs), and Kohala junior Mikayla Kekoa.

Like most Ka Makani greenhorns, Lee was a product of Peterson’s Volleyball Manufacturing Co., which polishes diamonds in the rough and develops mentally tough players.

“As a freshman, Madi came in as a true beginner. She lacked skills, stamina, and knowledge of the game but showed potential,” Peterson said.

Though inexperienced, Lee improved each year. It helped that she played club ball with Hoopa and the Piopio Bears and soaked in Peterson’s daily affirmations.

“I have learned so much from coach Sharon and my teams. One thing I will always remember is that I am the one who chooses to be positive or negative,” Lee said. “A quote coach always says is ‘If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.’

“I think being one of the main hitters gave me a more competitive mindset and a drive to get better. I asked more questions, I paid attention to how my muscles felt, good or bad, and I focused on doing the correct movements. Instead of stepping back and hoping someone else will hit, I stepped up and became more confident.”

Lee, who was one of the primary passers, finished with 263 kills while the rest of the team had 295 kills. She had 395 blocks while her teammates had 41.5 stuffs.

To proclaim that she drove the team bus would be an understatement. If there was a flat tire, Lee fixed the flat, got back behind the wheel and drove her Ka Makani teammates to where they wanted to go.

Lee produced points as a hitter, prevented them as a blocker and passed the ball to keep the offense rolling.

What more could she do? The only things she didn’t do were sweep the gym and turn off the lights.

If the equivalent were baseball or softball, Lee would throw a complete game, hit for the cycle with a game-winning home run and cook dinner for everybody.

“Madi was consistently a dominant force in the front row. She had the ability to end a rally with an impressive kill or a stuffed block,” Peterson said. “She moved effortlessly along the net and transitioned well in positioning herself for a successful attack.

“Without Madi, it is doubtful that we would have qualified for the state tournament or played as well as we did. It wasn’t a team secret that Madi carried a big load, and Madi knew what the team needed from her.”

Lee is looking to play ball at Whitman College, a Division III school in Walla Walla, Wa., which is in the Northwest Conference and is packed with Hawaii kids.

She’s planning to major in psychology and minor in astronomy at Whitman. The school is also home to 2014 Kamehameha graduate Casey Poe, who is just starting her senior season for basketball.

When Lee lands there, the Blues, the college’s new nickname replacing the Missionaries, will discover a few things about her.

“On the court, Madi was an encouraging and supportive player,” Peterson said. “Off the court, she was an academic role model. She was well-spoken, friendly, and very considerate.”

Lee made driving the team bus look easy. But as a middle blocker, she had a ton of responsibilities.

“The average fan doesn’t know the focus, balance, timing, and confidence that go into being a dominant front row player,” Peterson said. “It takes a great deal of practice and commitment. It is an extremely challenging position to play.”

Lee, the latest Peterson polished diamond, usually found a way to sparkle on the court, another reason among many she drove home with the POY award.

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