BYU-Hawaii takes four straight sets

PUKALANI -Maui volleyball fans got a glimpse of NCAA Division II women’s teams in action on Saturday when Brigham Young-Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific met at King Kekaulike’s gym.

Lahainaluna High School alumnus Kulia Murray got a glimpse of her future Seasider teammates.

The Taiwanese trio of Michelle Chen, Stella Chen and Ariel Hsu led the way for BYUH in a 29-27, 25-16, 25-21, 25-18 victory in the inaugural Valley Isle Volleyball Classic.

Among the roughly 700 fans on hand was Murray, who is attending Casper (Wyo.) College and has signed with the Seasiders, last season’s Division II runners-up.

“I’m really pumped,” Murray said. “I spent two years on the Mainland. It’s nice getting the experience to play on the Mainland, but it’s also nice to come home and be closer to my family where they can support me.”

Murray, who was introduced to the crowd during the fourth set, arrived on Maui on March 7, and flew back to the Mainland after the match.

“In Casper it gets down to negative 30 (degrees) and we had a few snowstorms in the last two months, so it’s so nice to be back in the tropical weather,” she said.

Seasiders coach Mona Ah-Hoy was impressed by the turnout.

“Oh my gosh, it was awesome support,” she said. “We didn’t expect this much people. It was nice to see the love of volleyball here on Maui.”

Stella Chen had 25 kills, Hsu added 15 and Michelle Chen had 49 assists. The three friends all attended the same high school in Taiwan.

“It was really fun because I have never been to this island,” Michelle Chen said. “It’s a great experience. I was glad to come to Maui.”

Stella Chen had only two hitting errors in the match and Hsu had just one.

“We have to give credit to our passing and our defense,” Stella Chen said. “(Michelle Chen) was passing a nice ball.”

In the first set, the Seasiders took a 10-3 lead before the Sea Warriors caught them at 19. The set was tied seven more times before BYUH won it on a hitting error and a double block by Lacy Miyahira and Hsu. The Seasiders served for the set four times, while the Sea Warriors had one set point.

BYU-Hawaii scored the final five points of the second set, went on a set-ending 7-3 run in the third and won 14 of the final 22 points in the fourth.

Kasey Thompson and Samantha Rummans each had 11 kills for HPU and Pomai Recca added 10. Marie Fujii had 20 assists and Hannah Schuett added 13.

“Anytime we can play more serious matches in the spring, the better we are for fall,” said Sea Warriors coach Daryl Kapis. “This is way better for the development of the team because we want those who maybe haven’t played as much to know what it’s like to compete for real.”

As for next fall, Ah-Hoy will be counting on Murray.

“She’s going to be one of our setters coming in,” Ah-Hoy said. “We definitely need somebody to come in and take our Taiwanese setter’s place – she’s a senior. We look for (Murray’s) experience from JC.”

* Kyle Sakamoto is at