BIIF volleyball playoffs: HPA survives Honokaa in five sets to reach BIIF finals

KEALAKEKUA — Hawaii Preparatory Academy is the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II champion for a reason. Veteran coach Sharon Peterson’s ballclub knows how to play through self-induced miscues and butterflies in big matches.

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KEALAKEKUA — Hawaii Preparatory Academy is the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II champion for a reason. Veteran coach Sharon Peterson’s ballclub knows how to play through self-induced miscues and butterflies in big matches.

Peterson’s Ka Makani prevailed over Honokaa 25-19, 14-25, 26-24, 25-27, 15-10 in the BIIF Division II semifinals Thursday at Konawaena’s Ellison Onizuka Gym.

Here are a couple of other reasons for HPA’s triumph: Gabbie Ewing’s 22 kills, including four from the back row, which diversified the attack; Anna Juan’s seven aces; and Alaina Bradley’s five blocks, including four in the decisive fifth set.

Haley Dow added 10 kills, Bradley seven and Juan racked up six kills. That was just enough complementary offense to offset all those hitting mistakes.

Senior middle Monica Muskat was the main part of Honokaa’s offensive engine with 18 kills while setter/hitter Tehane Reynolds added seven kills.

HPA clinched its ninth consecutive berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state tournament.

In the other D-II semifinal, Konawaena defeated Pahoa 25-19, 25-5, 25-5.

In a rematch of last year’s championship, HPA (10-4) will play Konawaena (14-0) for the BIIF crown at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Onizuka gym.

Honokaa (9-7) will take on Pahoa (8-7) for third place, and the league’s last state berth, at 4 p.m. Saturday.

During the regular season, HPA struggled but prevailed over Honokaa in five sets. The rematch was a carbon copy.

“It was error after error. We had butterflies,” Peterson said of both games.

“We’ve always been taught to never give up,” Ewing said. “That really helped push us through the last set. Alaina had huge plays and our defense was scrappy. Everyone’s energy was up, and we didn’t want to lose any momentum. I thought that was important and we stayed together as a team.”

In the fifth set, Juan served five straight points for a 6-1 lead, which included an ace and three Bradley blocks. From there, HPA just had to trade points. The match ended on a Honokaa service error.

The fourth set looked like it was in the bag for HPA, which led 24-21. Then disaster struck: A service error was followed by three hitting errors and suddenly the score was tied at 24.

Ewing’s sixth kill of the set got the lead back at 25-24. Then Muskat knocked down an over-pass, Ashlynn Kaiamakini had a kill, and a Ka Makani hitting error extended it to five sets, again.

From the start, HPA had trouble putting the ball on the floor — with more unforced errors in the first set, 10-6 — but still won. It helps to have a shot-maker like Ewing, who had eight kills in Game 1 — including three from the back row — and took swings from the left, middle and right posts.

In a key matchup, 6-foot seniors Bradley and Juan helped hold Muskat to just three kills in the first set. The tall Dragon got rolling in the later sets, but when the all-important game was on the line, HPA’s poise came into play.

Bradley and her roofing company went to work, and once HPA got the lead, the match went the way of the defending BIIF champs.

Konawaena def. Pahoa 25-19, 25-5, 25-5: The Daggers gave away too many free balls on passing breakdown bump-overs, and had more unforced errors than the Wildcats, 29-15.

Chanelle Molina posted 11 kills, McKenna Ventura seven. Celena Molina and Ihi Victor added six kills each for Konawaena.

Erleen Oguma had six kills and Tapenga Orevillo added five, all in the first set, to lead the Daggers.

Konawaena, the defending state champion, won the first set, despite more unforced errors, 9-4, behind Chanelle Molina’s eight kills. Then the miscues went the other way.

In the second set, Ventura served 13 straight points that pushed Konawaena’s lead to 23-4. During that scoring spree, the Daggers had seven of their 11 unforced errors, and Ventura dropped three aces.

In Game 3, Haena Keawekane served 14 consecutive points to increase the Wildcats’ cushion to 24-4. During that run, Pahoa had eight of its 14 unforced errors, and Keawekane produced two aces.

The Wildcats had nine aces. Ventura finished with three, while Celena Molina and Keawekane had two aces each.

Kamehameha def. Kealakehe 25-12, 25-21, 25-22: Kaiulani Ahuna knocked down 14 kills while Maraea O’Connor added seven kills and four blocks to lead the Warriors, the four-time defending BIIF Division I champion.

Nika Paogofie-Buyten had nine kills and Rashai Kailiwai added eight for the Waveriders (9-5).

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Kamehameha (14-0) had better ball-control with 11 aces, compared to Kealakehe’s one ace.

At 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship game, the Warriors will face either Hilo or Waiakea. The Vikings-Warriors semifinal ended after West Hawaii Today’s press time.

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