Lunas edge Na Alii in 5, clinch state tourney spot
WAILUKU — It took five match points and more than two hours to do it, but the Lahainaluna High School boys volleyball team clinched a state berth on Monday night at Jon Garcia Gym.
The Lunas battled to a 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 17-15 win over King Kekaulike in the Maui Interscholastic League tournament semifinals in a match that ended past 9:30 p.m.
“Before we came into this game we told ourselves: ‘We beat them at our house, they beat us at their house,’ and for the past three games we haven’t worked as a team,” said Lahainaluna senior Elijah Oliveira-Kalalau after his 15 kills led to the victory. “We told each other, ‘We have got to work as a team and just put our heads down.’ “
The Lunas (8-5) move on to face Kamehameha Maui tonight in the MIL tournament final. King Kekaulike’s season is over at 5-8.
The fifth set began 1-0 in favor of the Lunas because the King Kekaulike lineup card was turned in 10 seconds late. Jacob Wittenberg quickly tied the final set on a crosscourt kill. Darius Lauture, who finished with 12 kills and 10 blocks, made it 2-1 on a quick-set kill.
Oliveira-Kalalau smacked down a kill to tie it 2-2, and the race to the finish line was on.
A block by Miki Tufuga gave the Lunas an 8-4 lead before Kai Carbajal’s kill made it 8-5. A kill by Dominic Aflague-Mesta brought Na Alii within 9-7 and a kill by Lauture made it 10-8. A hitting error and a kill by Oliveira-Kalalau gave the Lunas a 12-8 lead.
Oliveira-Kalalau’s back-to-back kills gave Lahainaluna a 16-15 lead before a service error tied it at 16-16. A Na Alii service error gave the Lunas their fifth match point at 17-16 before an ace by Oliveira-Kalalau ended it.
“It felt good, at first I was going to jump serve, but I looked up to the bleachers and everybody was, like, ‘Easy, easy,’ so I just floated it,” Oliveira-Kalalau said. “State tournament, that’s good.”
The first set was tied at 21-21 before a block by Tekoa Sonognini, who finished with seven kills, started a 4-0 run to finish for the Lunas. A dink by Koi Kehona gave the Lunas set point and Sonognini finished the set with a resounding kill.
King Kekaulike jumped to a 10-4 lead in the second set behind a 6-0 run that featured a block and two kills by Carbajal, and two kills by Wittenberg, who was credited with 32 kills in statistics provided by the King Kekaulike coaching staff. Another Carbajal kill pushed the lead to 12-5.
The Lunas climbed within 21-20 on a Na Alii hitting error and again closed within 23-22 on a block by Miki Tufuga, but two kills by Lauture closed out the set.
Na Alii opened a 12-7 lead in the third set on a 4-0 run that started with a kill by Aflague-Mesta, followed by a kill from Lauture and finished with a kill from Wittenberg.
That run brought a timeout from Lahainaluna coach Marc Watasaki. A kill by Lauture pushed the lead to 14-9, and a Wittenberg kill made it 16-11 before the Lunas went on a 7-2 run to close within 19-18 and bring a timeout from King Kekaulike coach Geoff Cook.
Na Alii also credited team captian Aflague-Mesta with 13 kills.
“They are phenomenally coached team, like I said before,” Cook said. “Great job by Lahainaluna, they played their minds out and we played amazing, too. People all year long have been talking about our hitting, but our htting is nowhere without our passing, which is led by Dominic.”
A solo block by Lauture gave Na Alii a 20-19 lead before and a net violation gave King Kekaulike a 22-21 lead.
The Lunas finished the set on a 4-0 run — they reached set point on a combined block by Hoi Krause and Sonognini and finished it on an illegal pass.
King Kekaulike opened a 11-5 lead in the fourth set on a kill by libero Rayson Rivera followed by a hitting error by the Lunas, bringing a timeout from Watasaki.
Back-to-back kills by Lauture and Wittenberg made it 13-7. Another kill by Lauture pushed the lead to 15-8, and Carbajal’s kill made it 18-11. The Lunas went on a 9-4 run to close within 23-20 and prompt a timeout from Cook. A Kekaulike hitting error made it 23-21. A Lauture kill made it 24-21 before Carbajal sent the match to the fifth with a resounding kill three points later.
“They did, that whole team is great over there, those middles (Lauture and Carbajal), they are something else,” Watasaki said. “Great passing, both outsides were awesome. Every point it felt like we had to change something.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kamehameha Maui def. Maui High 25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 25-18
Lahainaluna def. King Kekaulike 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 17-15
Kamehameha Maui vs. Lahainaluna, 6 p.m.
Overall championship, if necessary: Kamehameha Maui vs. Lahainaluna, 6 p.m.
Seabury Hall vs. Lanai, 5 p.m.
Molokai vs. Hana, 7 p.m.
Seabury Hall-Lanai winner vs. Molokai-Hana winner, 7 p.m.
Overall championship, if necessary, 10 a.m.