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Bears complete unbeaten run to MIL championship

Baldwin High School players celebrate after the final point of their MIL Division I tournament championship win over Kamehameha Maui on Wednesday night. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

PUKALANI — The Baldwin High School girls volleyball team was driven all season to persevere through anything that it faced.

The last obstacle to the Maui Interscholastic League Division I title was Kamehameha Maui on Wednesday night at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym.

The young Bears (14-0) rolled past the Warriors 25-19, 25-8, 25-21 in what Baldwin athletic director Wade Hondo said is the school’s first MIL girls volleyball title since 1994.

“Oh gosh, that must be like Kanani Plunkett’s year — I graduated in 1990 — that’s back in the day when they had a really solid team,” first-year Baldwin coach Al Paschoal said after the sweep in the MIL tournament final. “That’s pretty amazing, you know.”

Paschoal spent the last decade coaching at King Kekaulike, but he has found a new home with the Bears.

Amanda Naipo of Baldwin directs a third-set kill past the block of Kamehameha Maui’s Jaqui Brandon on Wednesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“I’ve got to say, of course, it’s challenging making the step after you’ve been some place so long, but everyone at Baldwin has been so nice,” he said. “So, it’s amazing.”

Baldwin blasted out to big leads in each of the first two sets and really left no doubt on Wednesday night.

Baldwin senior Daesha Soares was on crutches with an ankle injury after the match after stepping on a teammate’s foot late in the second set, but she had a smile on her face with a gold medal hanging around her neck.

The Bears will be in the state quarterfinals on Oahu next week.

“Not a lot of pain, even after the adrenaline wore off, so it’s pretty good,” Soares said after she had eight digs, four aces and an assist before leaving with the injury. “I’m hoping I can rehab and be ready for states.”

Baldwin’s Sierra Aplanalp hits against the block of Kamehameha Maui’s Haven De Silva in the third set Wednesday night. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Bears start four or five freshmen, depending on the match.

“It felt really good, it felt good watching everyone come together, even the younger girls stepping up when they had to,” Soares said. “They are lovely, successful, hard-working ladies and I’m just happy that I got to work with them (in) my last year.”

One of the younger girls is freshman setter Lilinoe Paschoal, the coach’s daughter who had 31 assists, three kills, five digs, an ace and two blocks Wednesday night.

“This feels really special, I’m glad we all worked together to get it done,” Lilinoe Paschoal said.

The Bears led 7-0 and 10-2 in the first set before the Warriors caught their breath. Kamehameha Maui climbed within 14-10, but a kill by Ariana Naipo pushed the lead to 21-13 and a kill by Kuuleimokihana Manaois ended the set.

The Bears’ Lilinoe Paschoal sets a ball in the third set. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Bears jumped to 9-0 and 17-4 leads in the second set, the second bulge bringing a timeout from KSM coach Evan Jenkins. A kill by Hiilei Fuqua gave the Warriors the serve at 18-5, but the Bears pushed the lead to 22-5 behind the serving of Soares — they finished the set on a kill by Faith Alvior.

A well-placed dink shot by Shae-lyn Cardoza gave the Warriors their first lead of the night at 1-0 in the third set. A double block by Makamae Kaili-Kramer and Fuqua made it 3-1 and a resounding kill by Fuqua made it 4-2.

Kamehameha Maui still led 6-4 after a Baldwin service error and net violation, but a kill by the Bears’ Sierra Aplanalp gave them the serve and a hitting error tied it 6-6. Kamehameha led again at 8-7, but a kill by Manaois tied it 8-8 and a kill by Naipo on an overpass gave the Bears a lead they would not relinquish again.

Naipo had 10 kills, nine digs and an ace, and Manaois had nine kills and three digs.

Kamehameha Maui (7-7) will host a team from the Oahu Interscholastic Association next on Monday in the first round of the state tournament. The time and opponent are still to be announced.

“They’re tough, it’s a tough team,” Kamehameha Maui coach Evan Jenkins said of the Bears. “We were fighting for it, we were playing well. The momentum has to be on our side for us to do a little better, but yeah, good match.”

Jenkins is excited for the chance to advance to Oahu if his team can win the first-round match Monday.

“We have no idea who’s coming over yet, but we’re looking forward to it,” Jenkins said. “I look forward to hearing about it and it will be fun to see another team outside of our league right here. … A win would be huge, it would be a dream to travel to Oahu. Now we’ve got a couple days of practice, it’ll be good.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

MIL Tournaments

DIVISION I

Wednesday’s Result • Tournament final

No. 1 Baldwin def. No. 2 Kamehameha Maui 25-19, 25-8, 25-21

DIVISION II

At Maui Prep

Wednesday’s Results • Quarterfinals

No. 4 Lanai def. No. 5 Maui Prep 25-9, 25-14, 25-22

No. 3 Molokai def. No. 5 St. Anthony 25-10, 25-7, 25-6

Today’s Matches • Semifinals

No. 1 Seabury Hall vs. No. 4 Lanai, 4:30 p.m.

No. 2 Hana vs. No. 3 Molokai, 6 p.m.

Friday’s Match

Tournament final, 6 p.m.

Saturday’s Match

Overall championship or second-place playoff, if necessary, noon

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