POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 27, 2010
Once in a great while, snow falls on the summit of Haleakala.
Get the right viewing angle and lighting, and that summit can appear to be a soft pink shade. It happens only occasionally, but there's something that's even more rare on the Valley Isle: a girls volleyball state championship.
This may be the year when a team from the Maui Interscholastic League finally wins a title. It could be second-seeded Kamehameha-Maui, co-host of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Girls Volleyball State Championships, which begins today. It could be Molokai, which travels to Oahu as the No. 2 seed in the D-II state tourney.
The rotation for hosting girls volleyball state tourneys gives the MIL a break in travel costs, though critics argue that no coach or player in the state would say "no" to competing in the luxurious confines of UH's Stan Sheriff Center.
But that means KS-Maui gets a chance to play for the big prize at home, at moderate elevation (1,622 feet above sea level).
Five-time defending champion Kamehameha, winner of 15 state titles, is unseeded and begins play tonight.
Here's a look at both tournaments:
Division I Girls Volleyball State TournamentAt King Kekaulike and Kamehameha-Maui Schools
Seeds: 1. Punahou; 2. Kamehameha-Maui; 3. Kahuku; 4. Kamehameha-Hawaii.
At King Kekaulike
Match 1: Kaiser vs. Moanalua, 5 p.m.
2: Mililani vs. King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.
3: Castle vs. Waiakea, 5 p.m.
4: Pearl City vs. Kamehameha, 7 p.m.
» No. 1 Punahou Buffanblu (18-2): Punahou has reeled off six victories in a row, including two over Kamehameha to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title. Senior setter Ali Santi is practically a coach on the floor, even-keeled and consistent with her sets to any spot. Junior Tai Manu-Olevao has always brought heavy hitting to the court, but her defense was a major key in Punahou's title win at Kamehameha. Defense, as head coach Peter Balding often notes, is his team's cornerstone.
» No. 2 Kamehameha-Maui Warriors (14-0): Ginger Long, a University of Hawaii commit, and Kaulana Ane lead coach Bala Spencer's squad, which went unbeaten in the MIL. Long had 22 kills and 20 digs in the MIL final against Baldwin, and Ane racked up 31 digs and nine kills.
» No. 3 Kahuku Red Raiders (14-2): Kahuku has won nine in a row, including back-to-back wins over nemesis Moanalua in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs. Setter Teuila Nautu is vital to the attack. The ascent of sophomore Lepeka Kalulu-Sugai on the left side has opened up the floor. Nautu especially likes to give Ho'onani Apo backsets for big swings from the back row.
» No. 4 Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors (14-2): Coach Kyle Kaaa's senior-heavy team is peaking at the right time. Setter Kanoe Kaaa is the glue, distributing to classmates Kanoe Salazar, Hi'i Evans-Bautista and Katelynne Paleka-Kennedy. Salazar's serving was an important ingredient in a four-set win over Waiakea in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation final.
» Castle Knights (9-8): The OIA's fourth-place team meets Waiakea today at the KS-Maui gym in opening-round play.
» Kaiser Cougars (11-6): The Cougars, led by 6-2 hitter Nikki Taylor, upset Kahuku during the regular season, but were inconsistent in the postseason. They have a formidable block that could present problems for Moanalua in today's opening round.
» Kamehameha Warriors (18-2): Last year's squad finished second to Punahou in the ILH, but roared through the state tourney and toppled the Buffanblu in the final. Misty Ma'a, now a junior, is among the state's best hitters from the right side, while middles Nicole Sniffen and Talia Jardin-Fermantez, and Amanda Wasko and Brit Kalepa provide ample firepower. The Warriors have experience at setter in senior Kelci Renshaw and tremendous versatility in 6-foot-1 freshman Aloha Robins-Hardy.
» King Kekaulike Na Alii (8-6): Na Alii reached the state tourney for the first time in 11 years after outlasting Baldwin for the second MIL berth last week, giving them a chance to play before the home crowd.
» Moanalua Na Menehune (14-3): Junior Erin Perez has been a reliable source of kills for coach Tommy Lake's team. Tasha Meyer, a 5-7 middle, is a big sparkplug, but suffered an injury during the OIA Red playoffs against Kahuku.
» Mililani Trojans (13-4): The Trojans gained momentum in the OIA Red playoffs, toppling rival Pearl City. They led Moanalua 10-3 in the fifth set of their playoff match before losing.
» Pearl City Chargers (13-3): The Chargers finished first in the OIA Red West, led by 5-9 senior Keani Passi, one of the hardest hitters in the tourney. Marie Fujii, a senior setter, brings plenty of skill and experience.
» Waiakea Warriors (15-1): Coach Chris Leonard's squad was unbeaten until the BIIF final. But a five-set win over Hilo in the semifinal may have drained the Warriors just a bit.
Division II Girls Volleyball State TournamentAt McKinley and Kalani High Schools
Seeds: 1. University; 2. Molokai; 3. Roosevelt; 4. Hawaii Prep.
Match 1: Leilehua vs. Seabury Hall, 5 p.m.
2: Waimea vs. Kalaheo, 7 p.m.
3: Ka'u vs. St. Francis, 5 p.m.
4: Honokaa vs. Hawaii Baptist, 7 p.m.
» No. 1 University Junior Rainbows (14-3): The Jr. 'Bows are loaded, to say the least. Four transfers from Word of Life's now-defunct athletic program included powerful Kainoa Ocasek (Hofstra). Coach Walt Quitan and his returnees helped the former Firebrands blend well enough to win the ILH D-II crown. That was no surprise; Word of Life reached the D-II state final in each of the past two seasons.
» No. 2 Molokai Farmers (9-0): The Farmers have lived up to their billing since preseason, notching wins over prominent D-I teams like Kahuku, 'Iolani and Kamehameha-Maui. Kalei Adolpho's precision in the middle and outside is difficult to stop. Setter Kawena Puhi brings it all together for a program that has its best team in school history.
» No. 3 Roosevelt Rough Riders (14-1): The Rough Riders have multiple weapons more reminiscent of a D-I contender. Kawai Oleole (11 kills against Leilehua) and Zoe Young are proficient from the left side. Coach Pedro Velasco also has a steady senior in setter Kanoe Pupuhi.
» No. 4 Hawaii Prep Ka Makani (13-0): Former UH-Hilo Vulcans coach Sharon Peterson continues to mold the program she helped build before she moved up to the college ranks. Junior Leeta Grap drilled 37 kills in HPA's final two playoff wins.
» Hawaii Baptist Eagles (11-7): The Eagles lost four matches before regrouping under veteran coach Myles Shioji. HBA toppled D-I Maryknoll and wound up winning seven of their last eight matches.
» Honokaa Dragons (10-3): Coach Mike Fernandez's team lost to Ka'u in the BIIF semifinals but battled back to defeat Konawaena in five sets to claim the league's final state-tourney berth. Seniors Erika Kaawa-Akiona and Jessica Muskat power the Dragons' attack.
» Ka'u Trojans (10-7): The tiny school in Pahala earned its first state tournament berth on Friday with a four-set upset win over Honokaa. Sophomore Marley Strand-Nicolaisen had 12 kills and five blocks in the historic victory. Joyce Anne Ibasan, a junior, and Strand-Nicolaisen give the Trojans a presence at the net.
» Kalaheo Mustangs (12-3): The OIA's third-place team lost twice to Roosevelt and once to Leilehua. The second loss to Roosevelt went the distance, and the loss to Leilehua went four sets.
» Leilehua Mules (11-4): The Mules are scrappy and have some power in hitters like Ashlee Vaoifi and Samantha Talaeai. They struggled on the big stage in a loss to Roosevelt, but could rebound this week.
» St. Francis Saints (10-8): The Saints emerged out of the rugged ILH with the final D-II state berth. They were 6-2 at one point before facing the gauntlet of elite D-I teams and pushed HBA to the max in a five-set loss in the second-round playoff tourney.
» Seabury Hall Spartans (7-4): The Spartans are one of the few MIL teams to give Molokai difficulty, losing in five sets in the playoff tournament two weeks ago. Tiana Camarillo, Ariana Emde, Katie Bettendorf and Regal Deen-Jackson are key contributors.
» Waimea Menehunes (12-1): Though the Menehunes dominated the KIF, they needed five sets to get past Kauai in the title match. Jayme Jacinto (17 kills, three blocks, six digs vs. Kauai) and Brandee Victorino (12 kills, 15.5 blocks) are big contributors.