Spartans force overall championship playoff

Ethan Preseault celebrates after Seabury Hall defeated Molo­kai in the MIL D-II tournament championship Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

OLINDA — Seabury Hall’s Noah Bigelow wasted no time celebrating his team’s victory Friday over Molokai on his homecourt.

With its season on the line, the Spartans boys volleyball team won 27-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-23 to capture the Maui Interscholastic League Division II tournament final at Erdman Athletic Center and force an overall championship match today against the regular-season champion Farmers for the league title and the MIL’s lone state tournament berth.

“We’re so pumped and really ready to fight tomorrow,” Bigelow said. “We knew Molokai was definitely going to be a challenge and we had to come together and stay together the whole time. Everyone was nervous, but we knew we had to take some deep breaths and play it like any other game.”

Seabury Hall’s Ethan Preseault had a team-high 13 kills and six blocks. Bigelow and Kainalu Kubo added 12 kills a piece and Kala’i Anderson finished with eight kills.

In the first set, neither team led by more than a few points and finally ended with a tip by Preseault at the net.

Seabury Hall’s Noah Bigelow spikes the ball in front of Molokai’s Kaya Alcon in the first set Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Molokai responded in the second by jumping out to an early lead with kills by Kaina Adolpho, Nainoa Kahale and Keison Poaha Alcon. The Farmers led by as many as 11 points before Kahale put away the winning point off a pair of Spartan blockers.

“I think we got a little too excited and thought, ‘Oh we won that first set, we can stay back and don’t have to fight as hard,’ “ said Bigelow, who had four blocks. “It came back to bite us in the butt.”

Seabury Hall slowly built a lead in the third set with kills by Preseault and key blocks from Bigelow. Kubo nailed home a crosscourt kill to put his team up by eight.

“Knowing how to rebound off the second set was all just a team effort in knowing what to do,” said Kubo, who also had a block and an ace.

A pair of blocks by Adolpho narrowed the score to 24-21, but a pass by Kubo led to a crosscourt finish from Preseault.

Seabury Hall’s Kalai Anderson (left) and Noah Garcia try to block Molokai’s Kaina Adolpho in the first set. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

“The kills were really good, but I think the sets made me feel better,” Kubo said. “Kills are nice and all, but I rather be the one giving assists to my teammates.”

The Spartans led most of the fourth set, but the Farmers kept it close with the score at 21-20. A long rally ending on a block by Preseault and Noah Garcia of Adolpho carried Seabury Hall to victory.

“We were definitely keying in on their important players,” Kubo said. “We know Adolpho was one of their great hitters and whenever he was in the front row, we knew we had to get up the best block we could against him. Once they started tipping, that was a different game they’re used to and we could play our own game.”

The victory was only Seabury Hall’s second against Molokai in their five meetings this season.

“Seabury is a great team, we just never made enough quick adjustments,” Farmers coach Hale Domingo said. “We’re going to bounce back bright and early tomorrow and we’ll be swinging again.”

Molokai did not provide statistics.

Spartans coach Joshua Kulhavy-Sutherland said he was proud of his team, including Kubo, who returned to the court recently after severely spraining his left ankle twice this season.

“They really rose up to the challenge, but the work’s not over yet,” Kulhavy-Sutherland said. “We got a really important game tomorrow and we got to take care of business.”

* Chris Sugidono is at csugidono@mauinews.com

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