Thursday | December 14, 2017
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BIIF volleyball playoffs: HPA overcomes second-set grind to sweep Honokaa

WAIMEA – Hawaii Prep survived an emotional and physically draining second set to hold off a pesky Honokaa squad in the BIIF Division II semifinals on Tuesday. Ka Makani won in straight sets 25-14, 27-25, 25-10 and will play Konawaena for the DII championship on Thursday at Waiakea High School.

“We did better on our passing tonight, which is something we are always working on but hasn’t been there all the time,” said HPA head coach Sharon Peterson. “Our setting was also a little better today, and the hustle.”

Hawaii Prep breezed through the opening set behind Madi Lee, who guarded the net like a hawk. Lee rotated through the front and then served before exiting the game until her spot had rotated through the backline. When Lee is in and when she is out, it is like night and day for the HPA squad.

“Madi has the ability to put the ball down and she is a really good blocker,” Peterson said. “She is intimidating up in the front row and if she is reaching she can really pop the ball. She is the backbone.”

With HPA dominating with Lee at the net in the opening set, Ka Makani had high hopes for an easy day on the court. However, that all changed in the second set.

With Lee in the game, Hawaii Prep quickly took a 5-1 advantage. Lee picked up a pair of kills at the end of a 5-0 run, slicing the ball through a double block, and then splitting the Dragons’ defense with a spike down the middle

Lee then exited and Honokaa made its comeback, tying the game at 8-8 before taking a 9-8 advantage with Pulelehua Lindsey serving at the line. The rest of the set was a battle. HPA was able to take a multi-point lead late in the set with Lee back. Lee gave her team an 18-17 advantage off a block and a few points later she put Ka Makani up by four with a soft-touch kill between the front and back line of the Honokaa defense.

Lee again left the game with her team up 24-20, one point away from victory.

Honokaa then stepped up its game with Esther Benanua leading her team on a 4-point comeback from the service line. Chevy Martinez led off the run with a kill down the right line. Ester followed with a point off a shot from the back line and Lindsey picked up the third point.

An unforced error by Hawaii Prep tied the match at 24. Ka Makani managed to break Honokaa’s momentum on the next point but Honokaa again tied the set at 25.

On the next point, HPA’s Claire Henderson hit a cross from the left side that found the hardcourt. On the final play of the set, Sammie Sponer made a tough play on the ball. The ball was blocked by Honokaa, but went out of bounds. the ball was blocked, but sailed out of bounds, giving Ka Makani a two set lead.

“If they had won that second set, they could have gone all the way,” Peterson said. “It is a real emotional thing.”

Honokaa gave it everything they had for the comeback attempt, allowing HPA to take the final set with ease behind Lee and Pallechi, who made several sliding saves throughout the match.

“Gemma was gone on a college visit and she only had one day of practice so I didn’t know how she would react tonight,” Peterson said. “She played very well and seemed very calm.”

HPA will now take on the Wildcats, who defeated Kohala 25-16, 25-22, 25-18. The DII title game is set for 5:30 p.m.


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