Spartans top Dragons, wrap up state berth

Kaila Medeiros and Skylar Conley of Seabury Hall try to block a shot by Hana’s Pumehana Helekahi in the first set Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

OLINDA — Seabury Hall girls volleyball coach Scottie Zucco explained it simply to his team before their final home match of the season Friday night at Erdman Athletic Center.

“Win and you’re in,” Zucco said.

The Spartans eliminated a possible three-way tie for the Maui Interscholastic League Division II regular season title with a 25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13 win over Hana.

Seabury’s Ella Connor and Isabel Bennett lead the team with 21 and 18 kills, respectively. Chiemi Powell notched 21 assists, Madee Dougherty had 18 and Skylar Conley had six blocks.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Connor said. “Our team had to work through some stuff, but we pulled it out in the end.”

Seabury Hall’s Isabel Bennett hits a ball in front of Hana’s Atasha Paman-Manrique in the first set Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Seabury entered the match knowing a loss to Hana would have resulted in a tiebreaker count of sets between both of them as well as Molokai for the regular-season title, and the state tournament berth that goes with it. In one scenario, it could have come down to a coin flip.

“I keep track of all of that and I think about it a lot,” Connor said. “That’s what I do. In the end I just wanted to win so it didn’t have to come to that.”

The Spartans fell behind 3-6 in the first set before rallying to 12-12 off of kills by Bennett and Connor. Seabury scored six unanswered points and captured the set on a Hana attack that sailed out.

“It was nice to see Isabel and Ella come out firing,” Zucco said. “They did a really good job putting balls away.”

Five kills by Connor and aces by Bennett and Conley gave the Spartans a 10-5 lead in the second set. Hana responded with kills by Fuchsia Pua and Shaylee Roback to even the score at 19-19, and took the lead on a kill by Shasta Kalalau.

Seabury Hall’s Ella Connor (from left) celebrates with Malia Jost and Kaila Medeiros after their victory. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

The teams traded points until Roback ended it on a dump kill in the corner.

“I think we were getting flustered and Hana was playing really well and we were dwelling on our mistakes,” Bennett said. “Once we let it go and played our own game we stuck together.”

The third set remained close at 12-10 until Seabury broke loose with six unanswered points and seven kills by Bennett. Connor lead the scoring in the fourth set before Malia Jost put down a kill to end the match.

“I think she was on fire,” Bennett said of Connor. “I’m really glad I can count on her.”

Connor said she had “the jitters” before Friday’s match and credited nice sets from Powell and Dougherty for her kills. She said the team relied on Bennett, the senior team captain, for leadership.

“Isabel played amazing, she always does,” Connor said. “I definitely look up to Is a lot and how she plays and crushes the ball. It’s really fun playing with her.”

Dragons coach Pake Tolentino said she was proud of her team’s play in the second set and is confident her squad will improve before the MIL tournament, which starts Wednesday on Molokai. She said the team was missing three players, including two starters, and was forced to start freshmen.

“The girls could’ve played way better than what they showed tonight,” Tolentino said. “They were making so many mental errors and we tried to get them out of it, but they couldn’t.

“They’re going to work hard believe me.”

Bennett said she enjoyed this year’s competition, which elevated everyone’s level of play. She said she trusted her team would “step up and play when it came down to it.”

“It’s kind of sad I’ll never play in this gym again, but I’m really excited for MILs and states, and I think we can only get better,” she said. “If everyone can play together and trust each other in what we’ve learned, I think we’ll do really well.”

* Chris Sugidono is at csugidono@mauinews.com

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MIL STANDINGS

DIVISION I

W L Pct. GB

x-King Kekaulike 12 0 1.000 —

Kamehameha Maui 7 4 .636 4 1⁄2

Lahainaluna 5 6 .455 6 1⁄2

Maui High 3 9 .250 9

Baldwin 2 10 .167 10

DIVISION II

W L Pct. GB

x-Seabury Hall 11 1 .917 —

Molokai 10 2 .833 1

Hana 9 3 .750 2

Haleakala Waldorf 5 6 .455 5 1⁄2

St. Anthony 3 8 .272 7 1⁄2

Lanai 2 9 .182 8

Maui Prep 0 11 .000 10

x-clinched regular-season title

Friday’s Results

Molokai def. Haleakala Waldorf 25-14, 25-16, 25-15

Seabury Hall def. Hana 25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13

Lanai def. Maui Prep 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 25-14

Today’s Matches

Maui Prep at Lanai, 10 a.m.

Haleakala Waldorf vs. St. Anthony at Paia Gym, 6 p.m.

End of regular season

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