Warriors open season with sweep of Sabers

Aliah Ayau of Kamehameha Schools Maui sets a ball in front of Tatiana Martinez during the first set of the Warriors’ 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 win over Maui High on Thursday at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

PUKALANI — The Maui Interscholastic League race in Division I girls volleyball appears to be wide open, and Kamehameha Schools Maui knows it.

The Warriors began down a potentially tough road Thursday with a 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 victory over Maui High at Kaulaheanuio­kamo­ku Gym.

“I think it’s really important because I feel like these other teams, they look better,” Kamehameha senior outside hitter Talia Leauanae said after recording 11 kills. “That gets us more enthusiastic for the next game and the next game, to just keep winning.”

One indication that each match could be demanding came in the third set, during which the Sabers (0-2) rallied from as many as six points down and led 22-21. Kamehameha coach Alex Akaka called a timeout at that point, and Leauanae then tied the score on a dink. A block by Tatiana Martinez gave the lead back to the Warriors, and back-to-back kills by Alea Cervantes ended the match.

“I feel like it’s up for grabs this year,” Akana said. “So, we’ll see what happens. I mean, who knows? Tonight didn’t feel like a sweep.”

Maui High’s Javan Fernandez (4) and Jaden Sing attempt to block a shot by Kamehameha Maui’s Hoaloa Alapai during the first set Thursday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Cervantes led the Warriors with 12 kills, Kimani Fernandez-Roy added 11, Logan Spencer finished with five and middle blocker Martinez added four kills and three aces.

Next up for Kamehameha is three-time defending league champion King Kekaulike on Tuesday. Na Alii are without Kalena Vaivai, a first-team MIL All-Star last season who suffered a broken foot in a preseason tournament.

“We’re super excited to play King K and, I don’t know, we’ll have to see,” Leauanae said. “I think we were just trying our hardest to get off on the right foot.”

Baldwin took King Kekau­like to five sets earlier this week, and the Sabers, who have been limited to just eight practices because of renovations to their gym floor, opened their season with a five-set loss to Lahainaluna.

“Cannot complain on where we’re at, because we did not have a gym until this week,” said Maui High coach Kenny Houpo. “It has made it very tough, but we will get better, guaranteed. No excuses right now.”

The Warriors’ Talia Leauanae directs a kill past the Sabers’ Kawai Houpo in the first set. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

After a kill by Javan Fernandez brought the Sabers within 18-17 in the first set, the Warriors went on a 7-0 run behind three kills by Fernandez-Roy.

The Warriors scored 13 of the first 16 points of the second set. Maui High would draw within two, but Kamehameha then closed the set with an 11-4 run capped by a dink shot by Fernandez-Roy just over the Maui High block.

“Definitely a good way to start off our season,” Akana said. “Lots that we have to work on still. Maui High is going to be a factor and they are only going to get better from here.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

MIL Standings

DIVISION I

– W L Pct GB

Lahainaluna 2 0 1.000 —

King Kekaulike 1 0 1.000 1⁄2

Kamehameha Maui 1 0 1.000 1⁄2

Baldwin 0 2 .000 2

Maui High 0 2 .000 2

DIVISION II

– W L Pct GB

St. Anthony 1 0 1.000 —

Molokai 0 0 .000 1⁄2

Seabury 0 0 .000 1⁄2

Hana 0 0 .000 1⁄2

Maui Prep 0 0 .000 1⁄2

Lanai 0 0 .000 1⁄2

Haleakala Waldorf 0 1 .000 1

Thursday’s Results

Lahainaluna def. Baldwin 23-25, 25-13, 25-15, 25-11

Kamehameha Maui def. Maui High 25-17, 25-16, 25-22

Today’s Matches

Hana at Seabury Hall, 5 p.m.

Haleakala Waldorf at Molokai, 7 p.m.

Saturday’s Matches

Haleakala Waldorf at Molokai, 10 a.m.

St. Anthony vs. Maui Prep at Lahainaluna, 10 a.m.

Tuesday’s Matches

Baldwin at Maui High, 6 p.m.

Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 6 p.m.

St. Anthony vs. Seabury Hall at War Memorial Gym, 6 p.m.

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