Sabers beat Bears in four sets

WAILUKU – The Maui High School girls volleyball team has not been to the state tournament since 2006.

After one round of Maui Interscholastic League Division I play this season, the Sabers stood in a three-way tie for first place.

They started the second round Tuesday night with a 25-15, 24-26, 25-18, 25-13 victory over Baldwin at the Bears’ gym.

Maui High improved to 4-1; Baldwin dropped to 1-4.

Last season, the Sabers missed the services of junior libero Jeannie Hifo and senior middle blocker Amanda Williams, who both missed the season with injuries.

“It’s, like, really great that we are actually up there,” Hifo said. “I sat out a whole season, so I’m ready to come back 110 percent. If we really put our minds to it, we can be the best. I really believe in our team.”

Hifo tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee while warming up for last season’s first match. On Tuesday, she started the offense with several impressive digs.

“It was just horrible,” said Hifo of her injury. “This season I’m having a lot of fun when I’m not lagging around this big (knee) brace, and being a transformer out there. It’s great to be back on the court.”

Hifo, whose goal is to play at San Diego State or Brigham Young next season, said this season is full of promise.

“We have been working on different lineups because we have a pretty deep bench,” second-year Maui High coach Lena Quilantang said. “Our assistant coaches have been teaching them some different types of tasks for different teams.”

Kamehameha Maui, which has won 73 of its last 75 league matches, beat Lahainaluna 25-9, 25-20, 25-17 on Tuesday. The Warriors are Sabers are tied for first place.

“That’s awesome,” Quilantang said. “That should be good because there’s only five teams in the league and everybody is head-to-head with that, so, I like it. It’s good competition and it’s pretty even. It can go either way.”

Quilantang said her team has not peaked yet.

“I have two who were injured last year and five up from (junior varsity) to work into the mix,” she said.

The Sabers piled up 14 aces, six by Sulieti Hifo, who added a team-best 10 kills. Mele Enomoto passed out 50 assists, Grace Fisher added four kills and three blocks, while Wil-liams had nine kills and Toa Tongi had seven kills.

“Our serving, we have been working on to slow down the transition,” Quilantang said. “We served well tonight.”

The Sabers rolled in sets one, three and four. In the second set, the young Bears showed they could be a factor this season.

“Maui High is a good team, I look to them to be the team to take it to the top,” Baldwin coach Ui Tanaka said. “They are very aggressive on the court, very well coached.”

Tanaka saw signs of potential in the second set. One of only two returnees from last season, Gabby Cordoba is currently out with a sprained ankle. Kawena Cravalho is the only other returnee.

“We are encouraged by that second set, especially with a lot of new faces on the court,” she said. “The young girls are coming around. We still have time, they are working hard at practice and we are doing whatever we can to help them get there.”

* Robert Collias is at