OLINDA --- According to coach Caleb Palmer, the Seabury Hall boys volleyball team has been on tour this season.
Following just their second home match of the season --- after trips to Kaunakakai, Hana and Lanai City (for two nights) --- the Spartans stand one win from clinching the Maui Interscholastic League Division II title and a state tournament berth thanks to a sweep of Lanai on Thursday.
''One win away, so we are just taking it game by game and trying to play as well as we can,'' Palmer said following the 25-6, 25-14, 25-11 victory over the Pine Lads. ''I know it is cliche, but we feel if we can play, if we can take care of our game, then we feel we have a real shot to compete and win and clinch. But we go one game at a time. You can see we have a pretty good team, we are well-balanced, we have a good setter, a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great athletes, so we are fortunate.''
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Seabury Hall teammates (from left) Josh Kuhlavy-Sutherland, Dylan Hamilton and Holden Awong celebrate a point during the first set of the Spartans’ 25-6, 25-14, 25-11 victory over Lanai on Thursday at Erdman Athletic Center.
Seabury Hall is 6-0 after its first home match in 28 days and can nail down the MIL's only D-II state berth with a win on Friday night against Molokai at Erdman Athletic Center.
The Spartans were very balanced on Thursday night. They got eight kills and six aces from Dylan Hamilton, and six kills and five aces from Josh Chapple. Rocky DeLyon had six kills, Mark Walker had five, Conner Snow got four, Nathan Brandes had three kills, three digs and a 1.000 hitting percentage, Josh Kuhlavy-Sutherland had 10 digs and Holden Awong passed out 22 assists.
Awong, Brandes, Chapple, Hamilton, Sutherland and Walker are seniors on the team ranked fifth in the state in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin poll.
x-Baldwin 10-1, .909 Pct.
y-Lahainaluna 7-3, .700 Pct., 2 1/2 GB
Kamehameha Maui 5-5, .500 Pct., 4 1/2 GB
Maui High 4-7, .364 Pct., 6 GB
King Kekaulike 0-10, .000 Pct., 9 1/2 GB
y-clinched state tournament berth
Baldwin def. King Kekaulike 25-15, 25-23, 25-20
Lahainaluna def. Maui High, 27-25, 26-28, 25-19, 25-21
King Kekaulike at Maui High, 6 p.m.
Seabury Hall 6-0, 1.000 Pct.
Molokai 3-2, .600 Pct., 2 1/2 GB
Hana 2-3, .400 Pct., 3 1/2 GB
Lanai 0-6, .000 Pct., 6 GB
Seabury Hall def. Lanai 25-6, 25-14, 25-11
Lanai at Hana, 6:30 p.m.
Molokai at Seabury Hall, 6:30 p.m.
Molokai at Seabury Hall, noon
Lanai at Hana, 6:30 p.m.
''Second home game, yeah, we have been on tour,'' Palmer said. ''We have been to Hana, we had a two-night stay in Lanai City, and then we went over to Molokai for one game. It really does bring us together, travel. Anytime you can get the kids together and the preseason tournament at Iolani, that was great. We played really well, but we were also able to come together as a team. You just can't really put a value on the chemistry side and we have pretty good chemistry this year, so it feels good.''
The Spartans needed just 21 minutes to win the first set against the Pine Lads (0-6), 18 minutes for the second set and 14 minutes for the finale. In that time, they certainly earned Lanai's respect.
''Yeah, they really are a good team,'' said Pine Lads coach Zach Anguay. ''I think they have what it takes. I think they will have tough competition on Oahu, but they're definitely tops in our division.''
The Spartans are the top-ranked non-Interscholastic League of Honolulu team in the Star-Bulletin poll. The only Division II team ranked above Seabury in the poll is two-time defending state champion Hawaii Baptist Academy, at No. 4.
''We feel like we can compete, you know?'' said Palmer, who guided Seabury to a fourth-place finish in the 2009 state tournament. ''We competed well last year, we are a year older, and hopefully we are a year better, and a year wiser, so one game at a time. We will try to win tomorrow night and punch our ticket.''
With six players listed at 5-foot-11 or taller, topped out by the 6-3 Chapple, this year's team could have a chance to provide the Upcountry private school with its first state volleyball crown.
''I think last year's (state) tournament was just invaluable,'' Palmer said. ''Playing against Hilo (in a semifinal loss), they came out and took two games, we took two games and we could have just folded because Hilo was a really good team, but we didn't and we came back and won those two games. We were in a dogfight in the fifth, but we couldn't pull it out. You have to have that experience, I think, in order to take that next step.
''Hopefully, we can get a win tomorrow night and get our reservation.''
Robert Collias is at email@example.com