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Pahoa presses on to state final

DAYNE TEVES/Tribune-Herald  Pahoa celebrates Friday night after they defeated Seabury Hall to secure a spot in the HHSAA Division II volleyball championship game.DAYNE TEVES/Tribune-Herald Pahoa’s Jarrett Kamaka, left, and Nick Fisher deny Seabury Hall’s Nyk Yashiro with a double block Friday in Honolulu. DAYNE TEVES/Tribune-Herald Pahoa’s Joseph Lefiti sets Friday against Seabury Hall.


Tribune-Herald sports writer

HONOLULU — Pahoa relied on balanced firepower, and steady libero play from Kukui Mesa-Serrano to gain a measure of revenge against Seabury Hall, the tough Maui Interscholastic League team that ruined the Daggers’ dream in 2010.

Nick Fisher and Isaac Ekau pounded 15 kills each and Caleb Woo O’Brien added 13 kills to lift the Daggers over the Spartans 25-19, 19-25, 25-19, 25-14 in the semifinals of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II volleyball state tournament on Friday at Moanalua High.

No. 3 seed Pahoa (13-5) plays two-time defending champiion Hawaii Baptist (14-0) at 5 p.m. today at Blaisdell Arena for the state championship.

Pahoa and Seabury Hall (11-3) have clashed before at states. The Daggers fell to the Spartans in four sets for the state championship in 2010, when Fisher and Mesa-Serrano were freshmen starters.

The Daggers didn’t qualify for states in 2011, but returned last season, falling to McKinley in the first round. But at least, the experience was sprinkled on Pahoa’s lineup, which is loaded with seniors and includes Ekau, Jarrett Kamaka, Tanner Dipert, Woo O’Brien and setter Joseph Lefiti, as well as Fisher and Mesa-Serrano.

“They know what to expect (at states),” Pahoa coach Wayne Bidal said. “They know the pressure and don’t get overwhelmed. Kukui is the main thing to everything. Everything flows through him. When he does good, everybody falls into place.”

In the first set, Pahoa started off on the wrong foot, falling into an 0-4 hole. But Lefiti spread the ball, feeding Fisher for six kills and Ekau and middle blocker Woo O’Brien for four kills each. Fisher played the part of closer, nailing the final two points on a tip shot and one off-the-block.

The Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Daggers tripped over themselves with 15 unforced errors (hitting, serving and ball-handling) in the second set. The Spartans were far more efficient with only three giveaway points.

The third set was tied 14-14 and from there Pahoa outscored Seabury Hall 11-5, stringing together several three-point runs. The Spartans also tripped into a mud puddle, committing 13 unforced errors, compared to Pahoa’s nine giveaway points.

Seabury Hall couldn’t shake itself out its error-prone skid in the fourth set, handing Pahoa five consecutive giveaway points down the stretch. It was suddenly 24-14 and Fisher put the match away with a high-rising, fastball to the floor for his 15th kill.

The Daggers played with the type of teamwork that comes from experience. Their nucleus grew stronger as the season went on. And they captured the BIIF title, the school’s first since 2010, relying on the powerful operation of Mesa-Serrano’s passing, Lefiti’s setting and Fisher’s hitting.

When Fisher gets a clean swing, the 6-foot-1 outsider hitter’s athletic package comes into clear focus: he launches himself into the air and often hits bullets over the block.

But his game is not all based on power. Though basketball is his main sport — Fisher was named the BIIF player of the year as a senior — he’s improved his tip shot, a useful weapon when a hole forms behind the block. That’s happens when back-row defenders backpedal to guard the backline against his rockets. He had three tip shots against the Spartans.

“Last year I added the tip shot. When you go line and angle and they take it away, you see something open and it’s a great time to use it, especially at the end of the game when they’re not expecting it,” Fisher said. “Pretty much everybody on the team, all the seniors were at states last year. We know what to expect and it’s all about making adjustments.

“Against Campbell (in the first round), they were setting the ball high, and hitting high off our block. Then we made an adjustment to that.”

And much like basketball, volleyball is all about runs, either making one or stopping something cold. The libero is often the key link in the chain of both offensive and defensive production. Digs are prevented points, equal in value to kills though overshadowed. When a libero makes a clean pass to the setter, another unsung task, that starts the offense’s engine.

“That’s where it all starts,” Mesa-Serrano said about digging the ball, his No. 1 job detail. “That’s my main thing to hustle after the ball off the block or a shanked pass and sacrifice my body. I want to give the setter a perfect pass so the hitters can put the ball down. If not I’m ready for another rally again.

“I don’t have the height to be an outside hitter. I may be a better at passing for the team, and I’ll leave the outside hitting to our 6 feet guys.”

Fisher pointed out that the 5-8 Mesa-Serrano, who finished with 16 digs against Seabury Hall, is as good as it gets.

“In Division I and II, I think he’s the best libero in the state,” Fisher said. “He’s a money passer and I’m glad I have him on our team.”

Top-seeded Hawaii Baptist reached the final by sweeping Kauai 25-13, 25-13, 25-12. Michael Fisher’s 17 kills paced the Eagles, the Interscholastic Leagie of Honolulu champions.

Hawaii Prep def. Farrington 25-20, 22-25, 15-13: Jevin Ching came through with 10 kills and Jovan Crnic added eight as the Ka Makani reached the fifth-place match by beating the Governors at their gym.

BIIF No. 2 seed HPA (12-4) will end their season against Oahu Interscholastic Association No. 3 seed Campbell (9-8) at 10:30 a.m. today at Blaisdell Arena.

Tyler Liana led the way for OIA champion Farrington (9-6) with 17 kills.

Division I

Waiakea and Kamehameha-Hawaii both won in consolation play in Waipahu, Oahu, to set up a rematch of their BIIF final.

Mamane Namahoe put down five kills and Maika’i Gahan added four as Waiakea beat Leilehua 25-19, 25-17.

Earlier, Evan Enriques’ 10 kills paced Kamehameha and Emmett Enriques and Isaiah Laeha each added seven kills in a 25-19, 21-25, 15-6 victory against Baldwin.

At noon today, BIIF champion Waiakea (15-2) will face Kamehameha (16-2) in the fifth-place match at Blaisdell Arena. Waiakea edged its rivals in five sets last Saturday in the BIIF championship game.

Dakota Soliai led Leilehua (12-5), the OIA’s No. 5 seed, with six kills.

Bradley Bowlin and Afoa Laga had four kills apiece for the Bears (13-3), the Maui Interscholastic League champs.




At McKinley High

First round

Kamehameha-Hawaii def. Kalaheo 25-22, 25-17, 25-21

Kaiser def. Roosevelt 25-12, 25-14, 25-12

At Waipahu High, Waipahu

First round

Leilehua def. Maui 25-19, 25-23, 25-23

Kamehameha-Oahu def. McKinley 25-16, 25-22, 25-21


At McKinley High, Honolulu


No. 1 Punahou def. Kamehameha-Hawaii 25-17, 25-20, 25-11

Kaiser def. No. 4 Baldwin 25-16, 25-21, 25-19

Consolation bracket

Kalaheo def. Roosevelt 25-19, 25-14

At Waipahu High, Waipahu


Kamehameha-Oahu def. No. 3 Waiakea 25-17, 25-20, 25-11

No. 2 Moanalua def. Leilehua 25-11, 25-13, 25-14

Consolation bracket

McKinley def. Maui 25-18, 25-20

Friday’s results


At McKinley High, Honolulu

Punahou def. Kaiser 25-19, 25-19, 25-16

Kamehameha-Oahu def. Moanalua 25-12, 25-14, 22-25, 29-27

Fifth-place bracket semifinals

At Waipahu High, Waipahu

Kamehameha-Hawaii def. Baldwin 25-19, 21-25, 15-6

Waiakea def. Leilehua 25-19, 25-17

Today’s matches

At Neal Blaisdell

Center, Honolulu

Championship match

Kamehameha-Oahu vs. Punahou, 7 p.m.

Third-place game

Kaiser vs. Moanalua, 3 p.m.

Fifth place match

Kamehameha-Hawaii vs. Waiakea, noon

Seventh-place match

Kalaheo vs. McKinley, 9 a.m.




At Farrington High

No. 3 Pahoa def. Campbell 27-25, 25-20, 25-16

No. 2 Seabury Hall def. Waialua 25-22, 25-19, 25-22

At Moanalua High

No. 4 Farrington def. Kauai 25-23, 25-19, 25-21

No. 1 Hawaii Baptist def. Hawaii Prep 25-18, 25-22, 29-27



At Moanalua High

Pahoa def. Seabury Hall 25-19, 19-25, 25-19, 25-14

Hawaii Baptist def. Farrington 25-13, 25-13, 25-12


At Farrington High

Hawaii Prep def. Kauai 25-20, 22-25, 15-13

Campbell def. vs. Waialua 23-25, 25-19, 15-13


At Blaisdell Arena


Hawaii Baptist vs. Pahoa, 5 p.m.

Third-place match

Kauai vs. Seabury Hall 1:30 p.m.

Fifth-place match

Hawaii Prep vs. Campbell, 10:30 a.m.


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