After winning its first Big Island Interscholastic Federation title, Ka‘u’s historic season just keeps getting better.
The Trojans defeated Waimea 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state tournament Wednesday at Kalani Gym in Honolulu, becoming only the second BIIF team to advance to the semifinals.
Once again, Marley Strand-Nicolaisen raised her game, knocking down 26 kills to lead Ka‘u, which had received additional firepower from Kamalani Fujikawa (10 kills) and Kaila Olson (eight kills, three aces, one block).
No. 4 seed Ka‘u (17-2) plays No. 1 seed Saint Francis (14-1) at 5 p.m. today.
Hilo, then a Division II school, was the last BIIF team to reach the semifinals in 2009, but lost to eventual state champion Hawaii Baptist Academy.
“The key to winning was how we played in the BIIF championship (against Konawaena),” Ka‘u coach Josh Ortega said. “The team played together, did what it had to do, and clicked. The passing, setting, hitting and everything else was there.
“Cheering was a big factor. The whole bench was cheering whether we were winning or losing. The bench picked everybody up. It was a big factor and made the kids on the court stay positive and kept them focused.”
Saint Francis, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, beat Hana of the Maui Interscholastic League, 27-25, 25-16, 26-19, behind Angel Savea’s 10 kills.
“We watched their game for a little while,” Ortega said. “They have one girl No. 7 (Savea) who hits out of the back row, and the outside and plays middle. She’s their go-to player. They hit a lot of balls out of the back row. We have to be ready with our block and our right-side defense. That’s our concern.”
The Trojans have a bit of history with the Saints, who swept them in the first round in 2010. Despite the daunting task of facing an ILH powerhouse and the defending state champs, Ortega pointed out that Ka‘u is peaking at the right time.
“Before the season, I gave a whole speech to the girls about setting little goals, to win game by game, then win the BIIF championship,” he said. “Now, we’re looking at the bigger picture. Just because we won here, that doesn’t mean we’re stopping. We have to keep going, and stay focused.”
Meanwhile, the BIIF’s other title contenders lost and were quickly relegated to consolation action.
In the quarterfinals, No. 3 Seabury Hall swept Hawaii Prep 25-17, 25-21, 25-14.
When Gabby Ratte wasn’t dishing out assists, she was pounding balls down. She led the Spartans (13-3), the MIL champion, with 27 assists and 12 kills.
Tiana Reynolds had 12 kills, Gabbie Ewing 11 and McKenna Ventura added seven kills for the Ka Makani (14-6), who play La Pietra today at 7 p.m. at Farrington High.
In consolation action, Konawaena downed Hawaii Baptist 27-25, 21-25, 15-8.
The Wildcats (14-6) next play Kaimuki for the consolation title on Friday at 8 a.m. at Blaisdell Arena.
Mililani toppled Kamehameha-Hawaii 25-17, 25-20, 10-25, 25-23 in the quarterfinals. No stats were available.
The Warriors (17-1) play Moanalua at 5 p.m. today at Kaimuki High.
In consolation action, Hilo dropped Kalani 25-18, 25-15. No stats were available.
The Vikings (16-3) next play Castle for the consolation title on Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Blaisdell Arena.