Na Alii rally, finish season 12-0

(From left) King Kekaulike High School’s Brooklyne Albrecht, Lyric Love and Montana DiSegna defend a first-set shot by Maui High’s Javan Fernandez on Tuesday night at the Izumi “Shine” Matsui Athletic Center. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

KAHULUI — On senior night for the Maui High School girls volleyball team, King Kekaulike may have found some answers on the doorstep of postseason play.

Na Alii lost a set for the first time in Maui Interscholastic League play, but rebounded for a 24-26, 25-8, 25-13, 25-13 win against a determined Sabers team at the Izumi “Shine” Matsui Athletic Center on Tuesday.

“We were really happy, but I think we really needed someone to push us to four (sets) because we haven’t been there all season,” senior outside hitter Nina Macphetridge said after slamming home 22 kills to go along with seven digs and an ace. “This puts us in better shape for when we go to states.

When the MIL tournament arrives, these two teams might get to do it again. The Sabers (3-9) host Baldwin (2-10) in the play-in match on Thursday — the winner gets the top-seeded Na Alii (12-0).

“They came out firing, they served tough, they played some great defense, they gave us one heck of a match, so pretty awesome,” said King Kekaulike coach Al Paschoal, whose team ranked third in the state by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “That’s awesome for us. Honestly, we have got to get that competition, we have got to get pushed.

King Kekaulike’s Kalena Vaivai sets during the third set.

“We have got to feel uncomfortable on the court. They did a heck of a job doing that, that’s for sure.”

To those ends, Paschoal has invited boys and alumni to scrimmage against his loaded squad that was missing an ill Nohokula Lind.

Still, the depth of this Na Alii squad came through in the end. Temahh Shaw had 11 kills and a block; Kalena Vaivai has 43 assists, six digs, two kills and two aces; and Nanna Inoue had 24 digs and two aces.

The Sabers stormed out to a 16-9 lead in the first set — the largest deficit Na Alii have faced in MIL play — before things got quite interesting.

King Kekaulike ran off five straight points to close within 16-14, but the Sabers opened the lead back to 21-15. Na Alii fought off two set points to tie things at 24-24 before a dink and block by Sabers freshman Teiva Miller ended the set.

It didn’t take long for Na Alii to bounce back — they took a 15-2 lead in the second set behind 14 points in a row served by Kiana Anakalea.

A Macphetridge kill pushed Na Alii’s lead in the third set to 15-9, prompting a timeout from Maui High coach Kenny Houpo. An ace by Vaivai made it 17-9, another kill by Macphetridge gave King Kekaulike a 10-point lead and they did not lead by less than eight the rest of the set.

The Sabers tied the fourth set 2-2 on back-to-back kills by Ajah Rajvong, another freshman. A resounding kill by Shaw off a quick set from Vaivai gave Na Alii an 8-5 lead.

Maui High was still within 10-8 before King Kekaulike ran off three straight points to start a 15-5 run to the finish.

Rajvong finished with 11 kills, Javan Fernandez had nine kills and Kawai Houpo dished out 24 assists.

“It really does, it really does show us some things,” Maui High coach Kenny Houpo said. “The game plan was to do what we had to do tonight. Nothing to lose. Attack, attack and attack. We got fortunate that they made mistakes, so that helped us.

“We have to attack If you saw the last three games, we hit the ball soft, they set Nina and she pounds it right back. They set Temahh, she rips it.”

Houpo smiled and hugged Paschoal, his former Baldwin teammate, after the match.

“That’s the best team he has had in a long time, maybe ever,” Houpo said. “They have a chance to be a state tournament contender.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

MIL Standings

DIVISION I

W L Pct. GB

x-King Kekaulike 12 0 1.000 —

Kamehameha Maui 6 4 .600 5

Lahainaluna 5 5 .500 6

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 8 2 .800 1 1⁄2

Haleakala Waldorf 5 4 .556 4

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

Tuesday’s Results

Hana def. St. Anthony, 25-3, 25-10, 25-10

Seabury Hall def. Maui Prep, 25-13, 25-17, 25-23

King Kekaulike def. Maui High 23-25, 25-8, 25-13, 25-13

Thursday’s Matches

Lahainaluna at Kamehameha Maui, 6 p.m.

Division I tournament play-in: Baldwin at Maui High, 6 p.m.

Haleakala Waldorf at Molokai, 7 p.m.

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