Na Alii sweep Bears for sixth straight victory

WAILUKU – Colton Cowell has watched the best play for the King Kekaulike High School boys volleyball team.

He is intent on joining the club.

Cowell, wearing jersey No. 4 for Na Alii just as two-time Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year John Eddins did before graduating in 2012, smacked 19 kills and had two blocks in a sweep of Baldwin in the Bears’ gym on Thursday night.

The 25-19, 27-25, 25-14 win moves Na Alii to 7-1 on the season and puts them in firm control of the MIL Division I race.

Baldwin fell to 4-3.

“Big match, big win, it truly was,” Cowell said after King Kekaulike’s sixth consecutive victory. “Last year they swept us both times that we played them, so we wanted to come out hard because this is their gym. We wanted to play to the best of our abilities and I think we did.

“This helps in the standings for sure, but we still have to keep working hard for the rest of the season.”

Eddins led Na Alii to their first state-tournament berth as a junior, and capped his King Kekaulike career with the school’s first league crown in the sport.

“I play against Johnny a lot on the beach, it’s a lot of fun,” Cowell said. “It shows that guys from Hawaii can play. John is absolutely a role model for me, he is a great guy, he’s a scholar-athlete. He works his butt off every single minute on the court and I want to do the same thing.”

Cowell, a 6-foot junior outside hitter, teamed with Lionel Mills to thwart every threat by the Bears. Mills finished with 12 kills and three blocks and Izaiah Manrique had 38 assists.

The first set was tied 15-15 before Cowell led a 10-4 run. The second set had 11 ties, including every point from 21 to 25. A combination block by Mills and Zade Claxton gave King Kekaulike set point and a resounding Cowell kill ended it.

In the third set, Na Alii broke away from a 12-10 lead with six straight points – four from Cowell rockets.

“He’s a dynamic player, an all-around player,” King Ke-kaulike coach Scott Sniffen said of Cowell. “It gives us a lot of options. He can really hit from all angles.”

Niko Corpin had 11 kills, Ryan Garces added nine and Afoa Laga had four for the Bears, who got 18 assists from Kelii Kaiama.

“King K played really well,” said Baldwin coach Kalei Houpo. “We thought we found the holes and then we started making errors. When we finally found the holes, they started hitting the ball harder. You can’t stop them, you can’t stop those two big hitters at all, Colton and Lionel.”

* Robert Collias is at