Kamehameha Maui secures state berth

PUKALANI – Patty Batoon had to sit and watch the Kamehameha Schools Maui girls volleyball team win its ninth straight Maui Interscholastic League Division I crown last season.

Thursday night at King Kekau-like Gym, Batoon played a large role as the Warriors took a significant step in their quest for title No. 10. The 5-foot-10 senior middle blocker smacked 12 kills and had two blocks in a 26-24, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of Na Alii in front of a packed house on King Kekaulike’s senior night.

The sweep clinched the MIL regular-season title and a state berth for Kamehameha. The Warriors (10-1) will be the No. 1 seed for next week’s MIL tournament.

“I felt good, but I felt like I could have played a lot better in the middle,” said Batoon, who transferred to Kamehameha after her sophomore year at Maui High – by state transfer rule, could not play last volleyball season. “It is really exciting to clinch a state berth, especially for me and Charity (Sadang) because we had to sit out last year.”

Sadang, a transfer from Bald-win, added nine kills. Taylor Awai also had nine kills and Shalia Kamakaokalani had a pair of aces for the Warriors, who controlled the final two sets after being pushed in a 37-minute first set.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us to keep the title streak going, just to do good, actually,” Batoon said.

Batoon said Kamehameha’s loss to King Kekaulike (8-4) in the first round of MIL play turned on a light for a team that had four seniors from last season go to college volleyball.

“Especially, for me, it did,” Batoon said. “It kind of woke us all up. I wasn’t really mad because we kind of gave it to them with our mistakes, so we just had to work 10 times harder in practice.”

The Warriors are now on a 79-2 run in MIL play that dates back six seasons.

“We wanted to make sure that if we are the best team we just come out tonight and prove it,” Kamehameha coach Bala Spencer said. “We weren’t worried about records or anything, we controlled our own destiny tonight.”

The state tournaments begin Oct. 29.

“We know we are going to state, but we really want that higher seed, that MIL title,” Spencer said. “We are flying under the radar in the state polls, which we love. We like nobody knowing about us, so we just want to control the ball on our side of the net and get after the teams that play us.”

Spencer said that the pace at practice has picked up recently, and it is no coincidence that Batoon is playing her best right now.

“Patty played really well tonight – we didn’t get her the ball enough,” Spencer said. “Our practices have been taking a different kind of turn, really high intensity. We have been getting after each other.”

King Kekaulike slipped to third place with the loss, behind Maui High, which also finished 8-4 but won two of the teams’ three regular-season meetings. Na Alii will face the Sabers in a key MIL tournament semifinal Tuesday.

Maui High beat King Ke-kaulike in four sets Tuesday – a victory would have given Na Alii a regular-season title shot Thursday. A loss to the Sabers in the MIL tournament would end Na Alii’s season.

King Kekaulike’s Treyanna Freitas had 11 kills and 14 digs Thursday, Kalia Aguera had 11 digs and 20 assists and Angel Vallejo added three kills.

“It was a tough week for us, that’s what we said at the beginning of the year – that it is going to be a crazy battle throughout the season,” said Na Alii coach Al Paschoal. “Sure enough, it has been. We have had basically a revolving lineup, battling our own consistency issues. Everybody is playing solid ball now, going into the tournament.”

* Robert Collias is at