Online Extra: Warriors, Viks reach DI championship


By KEVIN JAKAHI

Tribune-Herald sports writer

KEAAU — The regular-season records stated that Hilo and Kamehameha were the top two Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I girls volleyball teams.

Their dominant performances in the BIIF semifinals confirmed that, especially with well-balanced play in all phases of the game from both powerhouse squads.

The Vikings swept Kealakehe 25-17, 25-15, 25-11, and the Warriors blitzed Waiakea 25-17, 25-17, 25-12 on Friday night at Koaia Gym in blowouts that didn't have a hint of an upset.

Hilo (14-1) plays Kamehameha (15-0) at 7 p.m. today for the BIIF championship for the third straight year.

The Vikings last won the league's Division I crown in 2001. They captured three straight Division II titles from 2007 to '09.

Hilo outside hitter Evalani Toldeo brought her hammer and turned into a hitting hurricane. The 5-foot-8 senior took swings from the left and right posts, and smashed 13 kills. Her tag-team partner, Amanda Loeffler also a hard-hitting 5-8 senior, cranked eight kills. Keala Wilbur-Gabriel added five kills and Shavonne DeMattos had four kills. 

Freshman setter Saydee Fujioka had one kill, but it was a memorable one. In the third set, she was near the net, waiting for a pass from a fellow Viking. Instead of delivering the ball to a hitter, Fujioka back-set, with her back directly at the Waveriders, and somehow the ball found an open spot for a kill. 

"It was a good opening for us. Hopefully, it prepared the girls for the championship," Hilo coach Olino Kotaki said. "Eva and Amanda got some kills from the right side. That opens things up and gives us more options. It sometimes confuses the other team on defense."

The Vikings played efficient ball and committed just 19 unforced errors (hitting, serving, ball-handling) to claim a berth in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament for the third consecutive season.

"I liked that we pushed through the match, no matter what," Toledo said.

They served tough, too, with nine aces and just two service errors. Taylor Alicuben took apart Kealakehe's serve-receive with five aces. She had a monster serving run in the third set.

Alicuben was behind the line when Hilo rolled off 14 straight points to pull the plug on the match, dropping three of her aces. The Waveriders did themselves no favors with seven hitting errors during that scoring spurt. They substituted back-row players to stop the slide, but nothing helped.

The season is over for Kealakehe (10-5), which loses two senior starters in libero Vilana Akeo-Tatuna and middle Apuakea Huebner, who had five kills. 

The Waveriders had two aces and two service errors, too many giveaway points with 30, and not enough offense, except for Nika Paogofie, a promising 5-foot-9 sophomore outside hitter, who had 10 kills. Hilo had 34 kills; Kealakehe countered with just 22 kills.

Meanwhile, the Warriors have a chance to pocket their fourth consecutive BIIF championship, a feat they accomplished from 2004 to '07.

Kaiu Ahuna blasted 14 kills to spark Kamehameha, which earned a a spot in the Division I state tourney for the 10th straight year.

The host Warriors emptied their bench in the third set. Harley Woolsey, Pua Wong, and setter Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker all had four kills each.

The season is over for Waiakea (8-7), which loses one senior starter in Kerian Cardoza, who had three kills. Kadara Marshall, a high-jumping sophomore middle blocker, led the way with seven kills.

Hilo and Kamehameha last played on Oct. 2 at a packed Hilo Armory. The four-set thriller was an all-time classic. It featured a charged atmosphere, and nonstop action, pretty much the complete opposite of Friday night's semifinal blowouts. 

Back then, Ahuna absolutely dominated. The 5-9 junior outside hitter went off for 25 kills, including 12 in the second set. Her production neutralized the efforts from Hurricane Eva, who had 12 kills, and Loeffler, who added 10 kills.

"We need to play defense, talk and stay with our game plan," Kotaki said. "That's play as a team, pass clean balls and run our plays."

Toldeo knows what it takes to beat Kamehameha, and it's not necessarily bringing her hammer and hitting like a hurricane. 

"We have to take it one step at a time," she said. "And we have to play together."

 

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