USA Select CT Red fought past the previously unbeaten Moku O Keawe girls 25-15, 17-25, 25-20, 17-25, 15-12 at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championship tournament on Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In an earlier match, the Big Island squad defeated sixth-seeded OKRVA HP Youth of Oklahoma 25-14, 26-24, 25-20 at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.
Moku O Keawe (5-1) will battle USA Continental Youth White today, and with a win it would earn the right to play for the tournament’s bronze medal.
“Right now, we’re in the top 6 of the tournament and that, in its own right, is pretty darn good,” coach Chris Leonard said. “Last year, we had a pretty good run and finished sixth. We hope to play well tomorrow (today) and finish higher than we did a year ago.
“But the girls know they have a big task at hand. USA Continental is very tall and we’ll have to have good ball-control to have a chance. Our girls feel good about the match and are ready to go. They’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Leonard felt the Moku O Keawe Regional HP Team, with a roster of 11 girls representing four Big Island volleyball clubs, played well on Friday, especially against talented USA Select CT Red.
“We lost to a good team,” he said. “We had some chances against them, but we just weren’t able to convert. But going into the match, we were 5-0 and had beaten some really good teams. “One of the teams we beat was from Oahu, and it’s kind of nice to see the Big Island girls beat them. It was a big win.”
Regardless of what happens today, Leonard said he’s extremely proud of the Moku O Keawe team’s performance. “We’ve got a bunch of girls who have never played in this type of competition,” he said. “It’s been an eye-opener for them, and a great experience. They’ve found out that not only can they compete against the best players in the country, but they also can succeed against the best.”
Members of Moku O Keawe are Amanda Loeffler (Hi Intensity), Zoe Leonard (Pilipaa), Maraea O’Connor (Hi Intensity), Pua Wong (Pilipaa), Makani Wall (Hoopa), Alison Fuata (Hoopa), Toni Beck (Hoopa), Kaiulani Ahuna (Pilipaa), Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker (Pilipaa), Kyra Kaloi (Cuzins) and Kadara Marshall (Pilipaa).
Leonard is assisted by Kawaileleohi’ilawe.