Na Alii extend season
LAHAINA – With its season on the line, the King Kekaulike High School girls volleyball team turned to Treyanna Freitas.
The 5-foot-3 sophomore out-side hitter responded with match-high numbers – 15 kills and 22 digs – leading Na Alii to a 17-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-27, 15-11 win over Maui High in the semi-finals of the Maui Interscholastic League Division I tournament on Tuesday at the Lahainaluna gym.
“It was super nervous, especially when we lost that first set,” Freitas said. “We had to play like we could let nothing hit the floor.”
King Kekaulike (9-4) booked a ticket in the tournament final on Friday against nine-time defending MIL champion Kamehameha Maui.
The second-seeded Sabers (8-5) won two of three from Na Alii in the regular season, including a crucial four-set victory last week. Maui High saved two match points in the fourth set Tuesday, winning it with a 5-1 run that was capped by a pair of resounding kills by Sulieti Hifo, who finished with nine.
“They are a tough team, it was really hard to beat them,” Freitas said. “It was really revenge.”
When the entire gym seemed to know who was going to get the sets for King Kekaulike in the final set, Freitas didn’t flinch.
Her dink gave Na Alii a 3-1 lead, her roll kill gave them an 11-10 advantage and another kill made the score 13-10. On the final point, Freitas’ diving dig set up a joust at the net that Brennalye Rodrigues won.
Rodrigues finished with nine kills and an ace, Brandy Feliciano-Benton had seven digs, Sirinya Yothawong had 16 digs and an ace and Kalia Aguera dished out 34 assists and smacked three aces and a kill to go along with six digs.
Still, it was Freitas who Na Alii coach Al Paschoal looked to when it mattered most.
“We had to pass a little bit better, get our heads into the game a little bit and show them that we can play really good,” Freitas said of the messages between games and during timeouts from Paschoal.
Paschoal and Freitas were both at St. Anthony last season.
“The position we are putting her in, it is constant pressure, severe pressure, and having to deal with that,” Paschoal said. “I can’t say much more about that. I mean, she did a fantastic job. A lot of times I don’t have to say anything, it’s a look and she understands. That’s a fighter. I couldn’t be more proud of her and everyone on the court tonight.”
The win came with a mixture of classes on the floor. Yothawong is a freshman and Rodrigues and Freitas are sophomores, while Feliciano-Benton and Aguera are seniors.
“We have got a lot of young girls playing some key positions and they really stepped up tonight,” Paschoal said. “Honestly, I told them today they don’t know how happy they made me telling them, ‘See you at practice tomorrow.’ “
Na Alii were 0-3 in five-set matches until Tuesday.
“It has been just fantastic volleyball,” Paschoal said. “We have been in just dogfights all year, so you can only hope that it elevates the whole level of the league, so whoever does get that (state) bid actually goes up there and competes.”
Mele Enomoto passed out 11 assists and Jeannaie Hifo had nine digs for the Sabers, who will play in a second-place playoff match against Na Alii on Saturday if the Warriors win the tournament final to wrap up the overall crown. Maui High is seeking its first state berth since 2006.
“Let’s just hope that Ka-mehameha beats them, so we can see them again Saturday,” Maui High coach Lena Quilantang said. “Man, it is up and down, it is either way.”
Paschoal said: “If we can limit those errors on our side of the net and somehow get past Kamehameha, then I’m the happiest coach on the planet. If not, then I know Lena is waiting. Those girls are going to be tough, that is going to be the rubber match of all time.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com