Na Alii hand Lunas first loss of season

King Kekaulike High School’s Daniella Wittenberg (left) and Nina Macphetridge try to block a shot by Lahainaluna’s Shay-Lea Samiu during the second set of Na Alii’s 14-25, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24 win over the Lunas on Thursday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — Shaina Rapanot-Uyechi has played setter before, but she was never more important in the position for King Kekaulike High School than Thursday night.

After Na Alii surrendered the first 12 points of the game and lost the first set with reigning Maui Interscholastic League Division I Girls Volleyball Player of the Year Kalena Vaivai on the bench with a broken foot, Rapanot-Uyechi shed her libero jersey and took over setting duties, leading King Kekaulike to a 14-25, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24 win over Lahainaluna at the Lunas’ gym.

“I started playing setter at Kamehameha Maui (before transferring), but since then I have just stayed in the back row,” said Rapanot-Uyechi, an MIL first-team All-Star at libero last year. “When I came to King K, coach Al (Paschoal) let me do some sets, and I don’t know, he trained me to be the setter as well because I know the libero has to be the second setter. I just had to put it together.”

Rapanot-Uyechi did exactly that, finishing with four kills, two aces, 19 assists and 13 digs as Na Alii improved to 2-1.

“Shaina is just one of those girls, we’re so lucky,” Paschoal said of his all-around standout who has verbally committed to continue her career at the Air Force Academy. “Honestly, she almost hit outside tonight. Shaina is taking on a huge role right now because we’re missing a few girls. That girl, she’s our captain this year, and she’s definitely taking a lot of the load on her shoulders. Not just on the court, but off the court, too, with leadership. I’m super proud of that girl.”

Na Alii’s Nina Macphetridge tries to get a shot past the Lunas’ Alana Koa (center) and Aulani Casco-DeLeon. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Nina Macphetridge had 16 kills, a block and nine digs for King Kekaulike, winner of the last three MIL Division I titles. Cymbree Trent had four aces, four kills and 10 digs.

While Vaivai is weeks away from rejoining Na Alii, outside hitter Chandler Cowell, an MIL All-Star, said she could be back by next week — she has been sidelined by a shoulder injury.

The Lunas (2-1) got six aces from Ashley Ganer and two kills from Taylor Ganer in their run to open the match.

“With them being the MIL champs, I was excited,” Lahainaluna coach Trixy Nuesca said of the 12-0 lead. “I actually had my assistant coach take a picture of the score just to prove that we were up.”

Three straight aces by Taylor Ganer closed out the set.

King Kekaulike’s Shaina Rapanot-Uyechi sets a ball in front of Lahainaluna’s Shay-Lea Samiu. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“I almost told my girls in the huddle: ‘That has never happened to me in my career,’ “ Paschoal said. “But you have to give credit to the Lunas and Ashley. She’s a heck of a player and we have seen her do that to other teams.”

In the second set, King Ke­kaulike took a 13-6 lead on back-to-back aces by Kiana Correa. Lyric Love put down a kill in the middle to start a 6-2 run to the finish.

The Lunas led 18-17 in the third set, but Na Alii responded with a 6-0 run that included three kills by Macphetridge and two aces by Trent. A second-hit kill by Rapanot-Uyechi ended it.

Lahainaluna led 24-23 in the final set before a kill by Macphetridge and two errors by the Lunas.

Taylor Ganer had 13 kills, Ashley Ganer finished with eight aces and Aulani Casco-DeLeon added four kills.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

MIL Standings

DIVISION I

W L Pct GB

Kamehameha Maui 3 0 1.000 —

Lahainaluna 2 1 .667 1

King Kekaulike 2 1 .667 1

Maui High 1 2 .333 2

Baldwin 0 4 .000 3 1⁄2

DIVISION II

W L Pct GB

Molokai 2 0 1.000 —

Seabury Hall 2 0 1.000 —

Maui Prep 1 0 1.000 1⁄2

Lanai 0 0 .000 1

St. Anthony 1 2 .333 1 1⁄2

Hana 0 1 .000 1 1⁄2

Haleakala Waldorf 0 3 .000 2 1⁄2

Thursday’s Results

Kamehameha Maui def. Baldwin 25-15, 25-12, 25-17

King Kekaulike def. Lahainaluna 14-25, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24

Today’s Matches

Haleakala Waldorf at Seabury Hall, 6 p.m.

Molokai at Lanai, 7 p.m.

Saturday’s Matches

St. Anthony vs. Maui Prep at Wailuku Gym, 10 a.m.

Molokai at Lanai, 2 p.m.

Tuesday’s Matches

King Kekaulike at Maui High, 6 p.m.

Kamehameha Maui at Lahainaluna, 6 p.m.

COMMENTS