Editor’s note: While the sports world is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Hawaii Today will look back every Tuesday at memorable sports moments on the Big Island.
In 2013, one thing was guaranteed at the HHSAA Division II girls volleyball state championship match — it would be a BIIF team walking off the court with its first title.
Konawaena and Hawaii Prep faced off for the third time that season on Friday, Nov. 1 in Honolulu, with the Wildcats defeating Ka Makani 25-16, 24-26, 25-18, 25-12. It was the first time both teams played in the state title match, which featured recent Big Island stars such as Konawaena sisters Chanelle Molina and Celena Molina and Hawaii Prep’s Gabbie Ewing.
The Molina sisters are more known for their basketball skills, both playing at Washington State, and Gabbie Ewing went on to play soccer at Concordia and then oversees in Sweden, but it was on the volleyball court where the future college and professional players battled it out for a state title.
In their previous meetings before the 2013 state tournament, Konawaena swept HPA in three sets during the regular season, and HPA won in five for the BIIF Division II title that year, Ka Makani’s third BIIF title in four years.
The familiarity between the two teams and the potential of making history for both schools led to a competitive atmosphere and more incentive for the Wildcats and Ka Makani to give it their all on the court.
“The last time, HPA beat us for the BIIF title. Playing them again at states, that was a big motivation and we wanted to win the state title,” Molina told Hawaii Tribune-Herald’s Kevin Jakahi in a Nov. 5, 2013, article.
To reach the title match, Konawaena and HPA both swept the opposing teams in the semifinals — the Wildcats defeating Waimea 25-20, 25-14, 25-20, and Ka Makani winning over Saint Francis 25-28, 25-21, 25-20.
Chanelle Molina had 28 kills for the Wildcats in the final match and Ewing finished with 22.
HPA senior Tiana Reynolds had 12 kills, and the Wildcats’ Celena Molina finished with 29 digs.
It wasn’t the end to the Wildcats’ story for state volleyball. Konawaena would find itself playing for the state championship again in 2014, defeating Seabury Hall 25-19, 19-25, 25-20, 12-25, 15-9 for the Wildcats’ second straight title.
“HPA helped us to grow that hunger in us for the state banner,” Konawaena middle blocker McKenna Ventura said in 2013. “Winning states is a dream come true. I can’t wait to be able to look back years from now and tell everyone I was part of the Konawaena girls first volleyball team to win state.
“I believe the title just opens doors for the Big Island. This title not only benefits Konawaena, but all of the teams in the BIIF. This shows the entire state that we have talent just like everyone else, and the will to win.”