Seabury Hall wins MIL opener

LAHAINA – The drive from its Olinda campus to the Lahaina Civic Center probably took longer than the Seabury Hall girls volleyball team was on the court in a 25-5, 25-4, 25-2 sweep of Maui Preparatory Academy on Wednesday night.

Despite the mismatch, the growth for both Maui Interscholastic League Division II programs was evident.

The Spartans have seven seniors who were a big part of the team two seasons ago when a two-set lead evaporated in the Division II state title match against St. Francis.

“I think we can go really, really far,” senior captain Sophie Janssen said. “It’s just a matter of how much ownership we want to take and how much responsibility we want to take. As underclassmen, we kind of felt that pressure from the seniors, like, ‘Work hard for us.’ Now as seniors, it is more, ‘Oh, win it for ourselves, do it for each other.’ And that’s a different thing, so we have to own that feeling.”

Seabury Hall coach Scottie Zucco took out all his starters before the start of the second set, but the second and third units were impressive as well. Janssen said she can feel the improvement at practice for the Spartans.

“Definitely, and what’s really good is that all of our team, no drama,” she said. “Everyone’s really close and everyone wants to get to know each other on the court and off the court. That helps because then we don’t have those awkward matchups when someone’s thrown in who hasn’t been in. It’s just a seamless transition.”

Seabury Hall’s Gabby Ratte had 10 aces and 15 assists, Niki Shaw had six aces among her nine serves, while 6-foot-1 junior Shayla Hoeft and 5-6 freshman Erica Pilotin each smacked six kills in seven attempts.

The Spartans got a test when they finished 10th among 16 teams at the Iolani preseason tournament.

“Three of the teams were solid D-I teams and (Hawaii Baptist Academy) and then the other teams we faced were solid from California,” Zucco said. “It was awesome, so much fun, every team in the tournament was really good.”

Zucco agreed his team gets better every day.

“If we can make the practice time exciting and game-worthy, actual game speed, then we have a fun team to compete against every practice, which is the case,” Zucco said. “It’s a lot of fun – it’s also a long time coming as far as making decisions for the long-term, so we can maximize, actually have that deep team.”

Na Pueo also showed signs of improvement at the start of their sixth season – they are still seeking their first MIL victory.

“It’s the beginning right now and it’s nice to play against a great team like Seabury right at the beginning so we can see what the best looks like and where we have got to work to get to,” said second-year MPA coach Daniel Shultz.