Warriors rally, claim No. 2 seed for MILs

Alapai has 19 kills, 13 digs in four-set victory over Lunas

Sofia Stupplebeen and Hoala Alapai of Kamehameha Schools Maui go up to block a shot by Lahainaluna’s Alana Koa during the first set of the Warriors’ 17-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-15 victory over the Lunas on Thursday night at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

PUKALANI — Hoala Alapai got the message from her older teammates on the Kamehameha Schools Maui girls volleyball team loud and clear on senior night at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym.

Alapai’s 19th kill of the evening finished a 17-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-15 win for the Warriors over Lahainaluna that nailed down second place in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular season.

“We really struggled fighting against Lahainaluna tonight,” said Alapai, who also had 13 digs and four aces. “We really put all our mana into it, so I feel like it was a fortunate win for all of us. We kept having, like, glances from the seniors that we have to beat them or they’re going to do all these things to us, but we just had their backs.”

The Warriors (7-4) and Lunas (5-6) will meet in a crucial semifinal in the MIL D-I tournament on Monday at the Lahainaluna gym — the Lunas must win to keep their state tournament hopes alive, while the Warriors can nail down a state berth in that match.

Had the Lunas won to push the teams into a tie in the standings on Thursday, they would have finished a match in Lahaina on Saturday that the Lunas led two sets to one before it was postponed by a power outage — that match will not be finished.

Lahainaluna players celebrate a first-set block Thursday.

“It was really important because the first couple (matches) with Lahaina I couldn’t play because I strained my shoulder,” Alapai said. “I think getting second tonight was very, very important.”

The Warriors took a 7-4 lead in the fourth set on a kill by Alapai, prompting a timeout from Lahainaluna coach Trixy Nuesca-Ganer. Kills by Sofia Stupplebeen and Alapai pushed the lead to 9-4 and another kill by Alapai made it 11-5. A kill by Kaena Cervantes gave the Warriors a 13-7 advantage before a resounding, straight-down kill and ace by Logan Spencer made it 20-12.

Alea Cervantes had nine kills and 16 digs, Spencer had eight kills, 13 digs and six aces, Meleana Hoopii had 19 digs and Taylor Morita and Kayla Yamashita each dished out 24 assists for the Warriors, who were swept by the Lunas in the teams’ first meeting in early September.

“It was huge for us because we hadn’t beaten Lahainaluna all season,” Kamehameha coach Alex Akana said. “It was one of those in your gut that didn’t feel good because you hadn’t won. Honestly, we took that game where we didn’t finish as a loss.”

The Lunas rolled to the first set after building a 17-9 lead midway through.

Kamehameha Maui’s Logan Spencer (left) and Tatiana Martinez defend the net in the second set.

The next two sets were nailbiters down the stretch.

Lahainaluna led the second 17-13 before Kamehameha Maui caught up at 19-19. The Lunas took 21-19 and 24-22 leads, but the Warriors rallied to score the final four points to take the set — the run started with a kill by Spencer, followed by two straight kills by Alapai and was finished by an ace by Spencer.

The third set followed the same path. The Lunas led 11-6 and 16-10 before the Warriors caught them at 21-21 on a kill by Tatiana Martinez. Another quick set to Martinez made it 22-21, an ace by Hoopii pushed the lead to 23-21 and an ace by Morita finished the set.

The Lunas did not keep statistics, but Nuesca-Ganer said her team will be ready for a must-win effort on Monday.

“They woke up and we went to sleep,” Nuesca-Ganer said of the last three sets. “We get to see them again on Monday and hopefully we can pull it together like we did in the first game against them. They’re a great team, we’re a great team and it’s going to be a great match.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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

Seabury Hall 10 1 .909 —

Hana 9 2 .818 1

Molokai 9 2 .818 1

Haleakala Waldorf 5 5 .500 4 1⁄2

St. Anthony 3 8 .272 7

Lanai 1 9 .100 8 1⁄2

Maui Prep 0 10 .000 9 1⁄2

x-clinched regular-season title

Thursday’s Results

Kamehameha Maui def. Lahainaluna 17-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-15

Molokai def. Haleakala Waldorf 25-14, 25-19, 25-17

Division I tournament play-in: Maui High def. Baldwin 25-16, 25-16, 26-24 (record not reflected in regular-season standings)

Today’s Matches

Haleakala Waldorf at Molokai, 10 a.m.

Hana at Seabury Hall, 6 p.m.

Maui Prep at Lanai, 7 p.m.

Saturday’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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