Purple Domination Highlights Warriors’ Finale
By Rodney S. Yap
The color purple dominated Ka’ulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium Tuesday night at Kamehameha Schools Maui.
Classmates, parents, teachers, football players and friends of the girls volleyball program — the undisputed champion in all sports on the Pukalani campus — came armed with posters, signs, and lei in show of support for the eight seniors playing on their home court for the last time.
KS-Maui swept Lahainaluna, 25-11, 25-15, 25-23, to earn its 11th league win against no losses this season, and its 64th victory in its last 65 games. This year’s Maui Interscholastic League Division I championship marks the school’s ninth consecutive crown. The team caps its 2012 regular season on Thursday at Maui High School, beginning at 6 p.m.
Fittingly, all eight Kamehameha seniors contributed to Tuesday’s triumph, which was followed by a “Senior Night” tribute to honor veterans Iwalani Kaʻaʻa, Kailee Tabaco, Anuhea Kaiaokamalie, Sheylin Patao, Sienna Davis, Raven Poepoe, Bobbi-Lin Kalama, and Leimana Kāne.
“Even though it’s a special night, we were looking for the win,” Kamehameha Maui head coach Charles “Bala” Spencer said.
“We know that every team we play, they are going to give us everything they got and Lahaina did just that.”
The Warriors jumped on the Lunas early in game one and never looked back. In game two, the Warriors’ superior serve held off the Lunas’ attack and Kamehameha was able to build a 13-point lead midway through the game.
Spencer actively substituted the personnel in game three, without a hint of panic or weakened confidence on the Warriors’ side of the court.
In the end, Kamehameha sealed the deal with Kane (11), Kaiaokamalie (9) and Davis (8) combining for 28 kills. Kalama had her usual game, serving four aces and nine assists, and Kailee Tabaco also had nine assists.
“It’s a joy coaching these girls, a privilege,” Spencer told his seniors and their parents after the game.
Because the Warriors work quickly, losing only one game this season, Spencer has had to be creative when substituting and rotating players in and out of the game. In the process, the coach is pleased to have accomplished his goal of building a stronger bench, which will benefit the team the deeper it goes into the postseason.
“They are playing a lot and playing very well,” said Spencer of his reserves. “It’s to the point where I feel like I can throw them in — any situation, any position — and they are going to make good choices and do well.
“We’ve been trying to get them quality playing time . . . by putting them in situations where they have to struggle a little bit.”
At this stage of the season, Spencer said it’s important to take one step at a time.
“We’re trying not to look to far ahead. We want to finish the MIL regular-season strong.”
The state tournament is scheduled for Oct. 30-Nov. 2 on Oahu.
During the fall break, the team travel to Mission Viejo, Calif. to play in the prestigious 24-team Aloha Cougar Classic at Capistrano High School.
The Warriors finished (1-3 matches, 3-4 games) third in their four-team pool.
“It was a tremendous experience and an eye-opener for us,” the coach said. “Humbling and also encouraging at the same time. The teams we played were all big, very athletic, and very deep. A girl makes a mistake, she’s out, and here comes another one off the bench who is just as good.”
Last year the Warriors advanced to the state semifinals, and their eight seniors gained valuable experience. Spencer hopes that experience from a year ago and the the lessons the team learned more recently in California will help them in postseason play next month.
“We worked on our defense a lot and our ball movement, our footwork. We know our defense will keep us in matches and we’re pretty confident that our conditioning will help us. We’re hoping that our defense will keep us around at states, we’re not bad offensively, we just have to make smarter choices. If we can stick around defensively and take advantage of the miss matches, we should be able to hold our own.”
Another bright spot recently has been the team’s improved serving.
“We’re serving well and we’re doing a great job of serving to specific spots,” Spencer noted.
After the conclusion of the game, KS-Maui recognized the seniors from Lahainaluna and awarded them medals.
Dressed in their senior-class purple t-shirts, the girls performed an original dance that brought cheers from their classmates and others in attendance, and each girl and her respective parents got a chance to shared a personal story or best memory since joining the team.