KAHULUI - The race for second place is on in Maui Interscholastic League Division I girls volleyball.
King Kekaulike High School needed five sets, but outlasted Maui High in a battle between two of the three teams sharing the No. 2 spot in the standings entering Tuesday night, riding the performance of senior outside hitter Taylor Fernandez to a 25-22, 18-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-12 win at the Sabers' gym.
Fernandez had 22 kills - six in the final set - seven digs and two aces, helping Na Alii (3-3) remain in a tie for second place with Baldwin. Maui High (2-4) fell to fourth. Kamehameha Maui, undefeated in seven matches, is the eight-time defending MIL champion.
King Kekaulike High School’s Jenna Mauliola (right) and Pua Borden attempt to block a shot by Maui High’s Suli Hifo during the first set of Na Alii’s 25-22, 18-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-12 win over the Sabers on Tuesday in Kahului.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"Very close, it's everybody's game," King Kekaulike coach Kapeka Vares said. "We're always glad to just take one team at a time. We just don't want to put so much expectations on us."
Second place in the 12-match regular season guarantees at least a playoff for a state berth if the regular-season champion wins the league tournament. Fourth place means an extra night in the MIL postseason and possible date with the regular-season champ in the semifinal round.
"It's a real battle right now, but it's real important to grab at least second place for the tournament seeding," Vares said after her team's third five-set match of the season. "We're just in the second round and it really is anybody's game right now. We are lucky to have Baldwin, Maui High and Lahainaluna to bring the best out of us, that is just how it is."
|King Kekaulike||3||3||.500||3 1/2|
|Maui High||2||4||.333||4 1/2|
|Seabury Hall||2||1||.667||1 1/2|
|St. Anthony||3||2||.600||1 1/2|
|Maui Prep||0||5||.000||4 1/2|
Baldwin def. Lahainaluna 25-11, 25-23, 25-23
King Kekaulike def. Maui High 25-22, 18-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-12
x-St. Anthony at King Kekaulike, 6 p.m.
Maui High at Lahainaluna, 6 p.m.
Hana vs. St. Anthony at War Memorial Gym, 6 p.m.
Lanai vs. Maui Prep at Lahaina Civic Center, 6 p.m.
The Sabers took a 16-14 lead in the fourth set, but back-to-back kills by Fernandez tied the set for the ninth and final time, part of a 7-2 run culminated by Hiilei Mahuka-Kihewa's kill. A kill by Fernandez ended the set.
In the fifth, Mahuka-Kihewa smacked a resounding kill for a 10-9 lead, and after the Sabers tied it, four Fernandez kills in a span of six points gave Na Alii a 14-12 advantage. A Maui High error ended the nearly two-hour match.
Kayla Uyesugi had six kills, three aces and three digs for King Kekaulike. Pua Borden had six kills, Mahuka-Kihewa had five kills and two digs and Sylvania Amor had five digs.
Maui High's Suli Hifo had 16 kills and six digs, Mele Enomoto had 15 assists, three kills, two aces and six digs, Kuulei Wasserman had 14 kills, two blocks and six digs, Toa Tongi had seven kills, Tina Lotulelei had six kills and Seini Vaha had five kills and three aces.
The Sabers, who have not been to the state tournament since 2006, were missing veteran Michelle Weckwerth, who was visiting her newborn niece in Washington state.
"This is a new team for me and all 18 have to play and just grow," said first-year Maui High coach Lena Quilantang. "We don't have any stars on the floor. We have a lot of returners, but no one like Taylor Fernandez - you can tell she is an experienced player."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org