King Kekaulike Outlasts Baldwin in Five Games
By Rodney S. Yap
In the end, it was a block here, a kill there, and an error by Baldwin that allowed King Kekaulike to close out a see-saw, five-game match Tuesday night on the Bears’ home floor, 18-25, 25-18, 25-22, 17-25, 15-12.
“Baldwin always brings out the best and the worst in us, but we always enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to play them,” said Kekaulike head coach Kapeka Vares after an emotional victory before a crowd of about 100 fans at Baldwin Gymnasium.
Kekaulike improved its Maui Interscholastic League record to 4-3, while Baldwin fell to 3-4.
The two teams entered the game with identical 3-3 records and played with similar energy.
There were four ties In the fifth game, the last deadlock at 8-8 when Baldwin senior outside hitter Princess Tamayo put down a kill and followed with a push shot to the middle of the court. But King Kekaulike scored the next four points, including a key block by sophomore Caitlyn Cole of Baldwin’s outside-hitter Olivia Wallace, 12-8.
Wallace came through with a huge dig to cut Kekaulike’s lead to 12-10, but a net violation on the ensuing serve gave the point right back to Na Alii, 13-10.
Baldwin’s 5-foot, 11-inch junior Kisaea Tasini blocked Kekaulike’s Kalia Aguera on the next play to make 13-11 and the Bears cut King Kekaulike’s lead to one point when Na Alii outside hitter Taylor Fernandez’ kill shot went wide, 13-12.
Fernandez came back and set Aguera, who saw open space down the line and hit a perfect shot into the unattended area to give Na Alii a 14-12 lead. A Baldwin error on “Aloha” ball capped the match in favor of the Upcountry school.
Prior to the fifth game, Vares said she told her players: “Just to keep their composure, I know the girls sometimes can get ahead of themselves. I wanted them to keep it simple, one point at a time and get the sideout. I thought we covered the middle well and I reminded them that everybody has a responsibility on the court.”
Vares said the victory was a “total team effort.”
“Taylor (Fernandez) is always up and down like a roller-coaster, for me it’s more than just her, it’s about the team effort and everybody playing consistent.”
Kekaulike got balance production.
“I thought Kalia Aguera played well, our libero Kayla Uyesugi and our setter Kayleigh Mrasek played well. I thought our entire bench played well and we needed the support of everybody to be successful.”
When ask if the team was ahead or behind in its development at this stage of the season, Vares said, “I always expect the unexpected with this team. Now that we’re finished with Baldwin we have to focus on Lahainaluna for Thursday.”
Baldwin head coach Kauila Houpo said his team was missing its anchor and spiritual leader in Pelemarie Buika, who was on the Mainland for a soccer recruiting trip.
“She’s kind of our leader out there, so that was kind of a big part of our team that was missing for us. There’s a big difference when she’s on the court.”
Despite Buika’s absence, Houpo said he is pleased with the progress of the team.
“We’re getting much better though and as long as we’re getting better I can’t ask for much more.”
Houpo said he like the short-set work of Taylor Badois and the outside play of “go-to girl” Wallace.
“But even she (Wallace) got tired in the fifth game, so we kind of got to get in better shape. Our setters our young and they are still learning, but we’re getting better.”