Spartans back on top with win over Dragons

Seabury Hall’s Ella Connor celebrates alongside Kiana Hyman (6) and Isabel Bennett after the Spartans finished off a four-set victory over Hana on Friday night. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Seabury Hall’s Ella Connor celebrates alongside Kiana Hyman (6) and Isabel Bennett after the Spartans finished off a four-set victory over Hana on Friday night. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

WAILUKU — After an unprecedented season that ended in the Maui Interscholastic League tournament last year, the Seabury Hall girls volleyball team was fired up to get back to its usual spot at the top.

Mission accomplished.

The Spartans completed an unbeaten run to the Division II league championship Friday, defeating Hana 24-26, 25-11, 25-19, 25-20 in the MIL tournament final at Jon Garcia Gym.

Seabury (14-0) and Hana (11-3) were already assured of going to the D-II state tournament. The Spartans are returning after failing to reach the field for the first time in the event’s 13-year history last season.

“Last year totally lit a fire under everybody,” Seabury coach Scottie Zucco said. “It’s something everybody tried to rally around.”

Fushia Tua of Hana tries to block a shot by Seabury Hall’s Ella Connor in the second set Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Fushia Tua of Hana tries to block a shot by Seabury Hall’s Ella Connor in the second set Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Erica Pilotin had 15 kills and 19 digs for the Spartans, who went unbeaten in league play for the fourth time in the last five years and won the MIL championship for the sixth time in the last seven.

Seabury’s Ella Connor had 11 kills, six digs and three aces — one during an 8-0 run in the third set that put her team in front 23-17. Connor’s final kill ended the match.

“There was a lot of pressure,” said Connor, a freshman. “I knew the game could change at any time.”

Isabel Bennett had 13 kills and five digs for the Spartans, and Kiana Hyman had 44 assists and three digs. Sevilla Leuteneker had 12 digs and four kills.

“Isabel and Erica Pilotin, just game in and game out, they deliver,” Zucco said. “It’s just so much fun to watch them play. … Isabel is phenomenal serving and on offense, and Erica’s all-around play, it’s always something. She’s always willing to fill in if we need an extra pair of hands to set a ball or dig a ball.”

The Spartans’ Erica Pilotin hits past Hana’s Noho Lind in the third set. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

The Spartans’ Erica Pilotin hits past Hana’s Noho Lind in the third set. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Fushia Pua and Noho Lind each had 11 kills for the Dragons, who are going to the state tournament for the sixth straight year. Pua also had six aces, and Lind had three, along with three blocks and three digs. Shya Roback had eight kills.

“We have some things we need to work on — little things,” said Dragons assistant coach Maluhia Scott, who was the acting in-game coach because Kalunu Cantero has a knee injury.

Hana’s only losses this year are to Seabury, and the Dragons are the only team to take a set off the Spartans. Friday’s match made Hana the first team to go up a set on Seabury this year.

“We look forward to playing Hana, but it’s never a cakewalk,” Zucco said. “We had to dig ourselves out of a hole, but the girls stayed true to the game plan, started picking up some patterns, and ultimately things started coming around.”

Seabury’s Anu Akeo sprained an ankle in the first set and left the match, but Zucco said she will be able to practice next week.

* Brad Sherman is at sports@mauinews.com

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