Warriors get by Sabers

KAHULUI – The Maui High School girls volleyball team has sent a message to the rest of Division I in the Maui Interscholastic League.

Nine-time defending MIL champion Kamehameha Maui is among those that know – the Sabers come to play.

For the third time this season, the Warriors survived a battle with the Sabers, winning 25-20, 25-21, 29-27 at the Maui High gym on Tuesday night. The sweep took more than an hour and a half to complete.

“The whole league just keeps getting better and better,” Kamehameha coach Bala Spencer said. “Maui High battles and battles every time we play them.”

The match was key in the race for the regular-season championship and the state berth that goes with it. The Warriors improved to 8-1 with three matches to go before the league tournament and eliminated the Sabers (5-4) from the regular-season title hunt.

Kamehameha is one game ahead of King Kekaulike.

“The top three teams are all scrappy,” Spencer said. “Everybody is scrappy, everybody is playing defense, every can hit, so it’s exciting.”

After pulling away late in each of the first two sets, the Warriors faced three set points in the final set.

A kill by Charity Sadang saved the first, a Maui High error tied the score at 24 and a service error by the Sabers made it 26-all.

Finally, a kill by Danielle Brown and a block by Patricia Batoon ended the match.

“It’s fun, the blood pressure’s high, but it’s a lot of fun,” Spencer said. “These kinds of matches are going to make us all better.”

The Sabers have not been to the state tournament since 2006, but appear poised to make a run in the MIL tournament.

“We keep coming close,” Maui High coach Lena Quilantang said. “We have got to somewhere down the line get a break.”

Batoon had 15 kills and Kaira Davis added 11. Sadang had five kills, all at key moments. Shalia Kamakaokalani piled up 19 digs.

“Our middles, Kaira and Patty, were really effective tonight,” Spencer said. “We are trying to take care of the ball on our side of the net – we are not looking at the state tournament yet. We are looking at Lahainaluna next. Step by step.”

The Sabers got 15 kills and nine digs from Sulieti Hifo, 11 kills from Toa Tongi, 16 assists from Mele Enomoto and seven digs from Jeannie Hifo.

“It is key to be ready for the tournament, but we have got to stay in the present right now,” Quilantang said. “These kind of matches will make us better. If we had teams like this to face all the time we would be a lot better.

“Even though it is a small league, there’s a lot of competition.”

Quilantang said her team is on the upswing.

“I feel like they will be ready for the MIL tournament,” she said. “They are getting tired of coming close all the time.”

* Robert Collias is at