Na Alii send Warriors to first loss of season

PUKALANI – Few wins, if any, have been bigger for the King Kekaulike High School girls volleyball program.

Na Alii stamped themselves as Maui Interscholastic League title contenders Thursday night with a 20-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-23 victory over eight-time defending MIL champion Kamehameha Maui at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym.

“Very proud to be able to claim this win,” senior setter Kalia Aguera said after helping hand the Warriors just their second loss in their last 74 MIL matches. “Kamehameha has owned it for so many years, we know all the big girls who came out of there, we have got some coaching, we’re just really excited to be able to take that win.

“That was such a good game, we both pushed so hard.”

The result leaves both teams with 3-1 MIL records at the end of the first of three rounds of Division I play. Maui High also has one loss.

“It’s only the beginning of the season, we can’t say anything right now,” said Aguera, who had 29 assists, 19 digs and five kills. “We have got two more rounds to go and whoever comes out on top deserves it.”

Na Alii certainly appeared to deserve this victory over a team that returned just one starter from last season’s unbeaten MIL team that sent four players to college volleyball.

King Kekaulike’s Brandie Feliciano-Benton had 19 digs and an ace, Jamie Gomes also had 19 digs and Treyanna Freitas had 12 kills and 33 digs.

“The parity in the league is amazing,” said first-year King Kekaulike coach Al Paschoal, who took over a team that has gone to two of the last three D-I state tournaments. “I think it’s completely due to the amount of girls playing ball all year round, so the level is elevated. There’s this fantastic, fantastic volleyball being played by everybody in the league.”

Kamehameha owns the MIL record for consecutive volleyball wins with 54, a run that ended in 2011 and broke the mark set in the 1990s by Maui High with a team that included the former Sheryl Hoopii, now Paschoal’s wife.

“You have to beat so much more than the team on the floor when you come in this gym,” Paschoal said. “There’s so much history behind this program. They have been nothing but top-notch from their in-ception. They are a fantastic team – sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Na Alii piled up 118 digs in the two-hour match.

“They played well, but still we didn’t get physically beat, we beat ourselves a lot,” said Kamehameha coach Bala Spen-cer. “I don’t want to not give credit to (King Kekaulike), they played really, really tough, a really, really smart match. We didn’t. We made a lot of mistakes on our part. You have got to give it up to them – they really had our number tonight.”

* Robert Collias is at