By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Hawaii Prep senior outside hitter Tiana Reynolds can work on her ball-control every day, whether she’s playing in an important match or just kicking it at home. That’s because her teammate and sister, Tehane Reyonds, is a junior setter responsible for feeding her the ball.
The sisters combined to put down the last two points as HPA outlasted Ka‘u 25-15, 23-25, 25-15, 27-25 in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II girls volleyball semifinals Friday night at Koaia Gym, earning an eighth consecutive trip to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament.
HPA (12-3) plays Konawaena (13-2) at 5:30 p.m. today for the BIIF championship with a shot to win its third title in the last four years. The Wildcats last won the league title in 1998 before statewide classification, which started in 2005.
In the first semifinal, the Wildcats defeated Pahoa 25-20, 24-26, 25-13, 25-10. Konawaena is going to states for the third straight year.
The Trojans (10-6), the defending BIIF champion, play Pahoa (8-8) at 4 p.m. today in the third-place match and final spot to the Division II state tourney.
Tiana Reynolds finished with 17 kills while Gabbie Ewing added 14, the only Ka Makani players in double digits. They accounted for most of HPA’s 42 kills.
“We didn’t play our best, to our full potential,” Tiana Reynolds said. “We want to use this experience and play better on Saturday. We didn’t close our block enough and didn’t communicate more. Our spirit was kind of down.”
On the other side of the net, Toni Beck kept returning fire and collected 24 kills and Kama Fujikawa contributed 15 kills to lead the Trojans, who had 45 kills.
HPA’s better ball-control showed up at the end line with seven aces and just three service errors. Ka‘u also had seven aces, but hurt itself with 11 service errors.
The biggest disparity was unforced errors (hitting, serving, ball-handling). The Trojans were their own worst enemy with 48 giveaway points. HPA had just 27 unforced errors, often keeping the ball in play until Ka‘u made some sort of mistake.
“It’s all about ball-control,” HPA coach Sharon Peterson said. “I thought we fought well and had good ball-control. That’s what it comes down to, who controls the ball.”
What also helped HPA was its height with 5-foot-11 middle blockers Alaina Bradley and Seychelle Francis, 5-10 outside hitter Anna Juan, and Tiana Reynolds, an inch shorter. Ewing is 5-7 but with her jumping ability plays much bigger.
Bradley had four kills, Francis three and Juan had one kill. But defense made a big difference, and all three touched the ball enough, giving HPA’s back-row defenders a better chance to keep plays going.
“We’ve got good blockers. They’re not club players,” Peterson said. “Francis has been with us for four years, but is still learning the game. Bradley came off the junior varsity. But we need them. They are tall and that’s good.
“Having big blockers really helps. But we need to get together and make our block whole.”
In Game 4, Beck, a 5-11 senior middle, had a monster performance with 12 kills, but all that production was offset with her team’s 12 unforced errors.
HPA staged a dramatic comeback, trailing 23-21, starting with an Ewing kill and a Tehane Reynolds ace. Then the two teams traded points.
A Ka‘u ball-handling error pushed HPA ahead 25-24. But Beck and the Trojans kept swinging away. She ripped her 12th kills to tie it again.
That’s when the sisters connected and Tiana Reynolds smashed back-to-back kills to end the marathon match.
“I like working with my sister,” Tiana Reynolds said. “I use my wrist instead of my shoulder to hit. That gives more pop to the ball.”
Game 3 highlighted HPA’s better ball-control with Tehane Reynolds at the service line. She reeled off 13 straight points to stake her team to a 20-13 cushion. During that scoring spree, Ka‘u gave away seven points, all on hitting errors.
One other thing about ball-control in Peterson’s mind is swinging smart. Her hitters don’t take really big rips at the ball. Most of the time the hitters are aiming at a specific spot, much to the delight of their coach.
“It’s being smart using our tip, soft shots or off-the-block shot,” she said. “We have to extend the arm and snap the wrist.
“Ka‘u really played great and they definitely swung at the ball. I’m happy we’re here with the win.”
Kona def. Pahoa in four
Chanelle Molina smashed 26 kills to lead the Wildcats to a 25-20, 24-26, 25-13, 25-10 win, showcasing Kona’s firepower. The Wildcats finished with 60 kills to the Daggers’ 34 kills.
The 5-foot-6 junior outside hitter was consistent with nine kills in the first set, five in the second, eight in the third and four in the fourth.
Her freshman sister, Celena Molina, added eight kills as a setter/hitter, and McKenna Ventura had 10 kills. Makani Wall, the other setter, contributed seven kills, including match point.
Maxine Block drilled 18 kills to lead the Daggers, who were pretty much even in the other important stats: unforced errors and aces. Erleen Oguma added seven kills while Christine Colobong and Daecee Subia had three each.
The Wildcats played a hair cleaner with only 26 giveaway points, one less than the Daggers. Kona had nine aces with three from Kaela Avanilla, and Pahoa had seven aces with three from Colobong.
In Game 1, the Daggers had just five unforced errors to the Wildcats’ 10 giveaway points, and closed to 21-19. But two of Pahoa’s hitting errors were committed near the finish line, including game point.
Down 24-23 in the second set, Oguma dropped one of her seven kills to tie it. Later Subia, a freshman setter/hitter, put down set point.
Block, who knocked down her first five swings, blasted seven kills in the set while the Molina sisters had five kills each.
In Game 3, Avanilla served 14 straight points for a 15-2 cushion, a run that ended on a service error. The junior middle blocker had three aces, and Chanelle Molina had five kills during the run, which happened with Block, her team’s top passer, in the front row.
Block had two of Pahoa’s four kills; the rest of the points were on Kona giveaway points.
In the fourth set, Wall served nine consecutive points for a 12-2 lead, a run that stopped on a ball-handling error. Wall cranked her seventh kill for match point.