Maui High remains in hunt

WAILUKU – What began as a tight match between two equally talented teams ended in domination by Maui High School.

The Sabers swept Kamehameha Maui 25-23, 25-17, 25-16 on Wednesday in a Maui Interscholastic League Division I boys volleyball semifinal at Baldwin’s gym.

The win guarantees Maui High a playoff for the league championship or runner-up spot on Saturday.

The Sabers (7-6), who finished third in the regular season, will play regular-season champion Baldwin Friday in the tournament final.

“We came out here thinking that this is our plane ticket, like we’re playing to go to states,” said Maui High middle blocker Sage Malaikini. “We had a pregame talk and everybody knew that it was a big deal to all of us, especially the seniors. The whole team stepped up big for us tonight, it was a big win.”

The first set was a back-and-forth battle, with neither team leading by more than five points. Maui High scored 11 of the first 12 points of the second set, and led 17-7 on the way to winning the third.

“That first match set the tone,” Malaikini said. “We came out swinging in that one and they battled back.”

Malaikini finished with eight kills and six blocks.

“We’re a good fundamental team, we passed, we talked and we hit good-everything was on point tonight,” he said.

Jaryn Kuhaulua-Feiteira and Craig-Anthony Fuentes finished with nine kills apiece for Maui High, and Ryan Dalut had 30 assists.

“I was a little bit nervous, but confident in my team because of all that we’ve been through this season,” Dalut said. “The biggest thing was communicating to each other from the first set.”

Sabers coach Philip Velasco said he hadn’t seen his team perform better this season.

“I think overall we finally started playing together, communicating, working as a team, instead of individuals,” he said. “So I’m just extremely proud of the kids, and my hat’s off to Kamehameha too, they did a great job tonight.”

Warriors coach Robert Brede said he was disappointed with his team’s lack of focus.

“That’s not our team,” he said. “We basically beat ourselves and we’re trying to find a solution for what it is. It’s something far beyond coaching, it’s something far beyond planning and prepping we’re not collectively as a team and going out there trying to achieve our destiny.”

* Chris Sugidono is at