The Moku O Keawe girls capped an impressive week at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championship tournament with a fifth-place finish Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The talented Big Island squad rallied to defeat USA Youth CT Blue 11-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-5 in its final match and finished with a 6-2 record.
The tournament attracted some of the top 18 & under volleyball players in the country and was played at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.
“We improved from one place over last year, from sixth to fifth place, and the girls had a really nice run this year,” Moku O Keawe coach Chris Leonard said. “They improved every match. They looked great at times, but they also struggled with inconsistencies. They beat the bronze medalist team and lost a close match to the silver medalist.
“So as they all walk away, they may have been a little disappointed that they didn’t get to the gold medal round, but they know they had a great overall experience. They know we played some outstanding teams, and we were right there. Certainly the girls will come home from this with a lot of confidence that will hopefully carry over to their high school seasons.”
Moku O Keawe started the highly competitive event with a 5-0 record to reach the final eight. The Big Islanders then split matches Friday. They beat OKRVA HP Youth of Oklahoma 25-14, 26-24, 25-20 in the morning and fell to USA Select CT Red 25-15, 17-25, 25-20, 17-25, 15-12 in the later match.
In its first match Saturday, Moku O Keawe fell to tall USA Continental Youth White 15-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-17.
Members of the Moku O Keawe regional team include 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 was assisted by Kawaileleohi’ilawe.