Na Alii earn berth in semifinal round
PUKALANI – The King Kekaulike High School boys volleyball team was able to get off to a fast start and finish with a flurry Saturday.
Na Alii had a rough patch in the middle, but recovered and will play their next match on Oahu.
Colton Cowell and Lionel Mills each had 17 kills as fourth-seeded King Kekaulike defeated Waianae 25-15, 25-12, 23-25, 25-19 in a New City Nissan Division I?Championship quarterfinal at Na Alii’s gym.
“In the beginning they were focused,” said King Kekaulike coach Scott Sniffen. “They knew to put everything on the line and there was the possibility this could be the last game so they came out to play today.”
Na Alii (14-1) will take on top-seeded Punahou in a semifinal match Friday at McKinley.
King Kekaulike ran off the first 11 points Saturday and finished the first set with 13 kills and three blocks. The second was more of the same as Na Alii jumped out to a 14-6 advantage.
“It feels really good. We trained really hard and we came out to play and showed what we had,” Mills said.
“We’re really excited to go to Oahu because we know our first match is against Punahou,” Cowell said.
“We have to train hard and come out with a lot of fire.”
Waianae (10-7) rallied in the third set, scoring the final two points on a hitting error and kill by Akioni Faumuina. Keanu Pua-Aulele had seven of his 15 kills in the set.
“We started our warmups and practices and it was a little rough, so I was kind of worried,” said Seariders coach Wilhelm Wagner. “But we’re known for playing from behind so we’re comfortable with that.”
As far as a letdown for his team in the third set, Sniffen wasn’t surprised.
“It seems like it’s natural for us as far as the effort we put in,”?he said. “We did have a little drop in there and they got a little momentum on us.”
In the fourth set, Cowell served five points in a row, including an ace, for a commanding 22-14 advantage.
“Our team was really fired up in the beginning but we really slowed down in the middle, but in the end we started going hard and that’s how we got the win,” said Izaiah Manrique, who had 49 assists for King Kekaulike.
Na Alii hit .276 for the match, while holding the Seariders to .087.
King Kekaulike’s Laakea Gonsalves had 15 digs and Liam Chan Hodges added 13. Don Thompson was in on five blocks and Cowell had four of King Kekaulike’s 10 aces.
The Seariders’ Jahren Muliagatele had 24 assists and Hezakiah Agiga finished with 14. Joniah Poe contributed 15 digs and Muliagatele had 10.
Waianae was playing on a second island in two days. The Seariders swept Leilehua at Iolani’s gym Friday.
“The dry time at the airport kind of played a factor,” Wagner said. “It was a long morning, match decided last night, rolling into this morning. It was a long overnight, but no excuse, King Kekaulike is the real deal. They can play.”
* Kyle Sakamoto is at email@example.com