Monday, November 30, 2015         


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Savea delivers for Saints

By Billy Hull


Everyone inside the Kalani High School gymnasium knew where St. Francis was going with the final kill.

Senior outside Angel Savea put down her 19th kill on the final swing of the match as No. 1 seed Saint Francis rallied in the third set to complete a 25-23, 25-21, 26-24 sweep of fourth-seeded Ka‘u in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Girls State Volleyball Championships on Thursday night.

The Saints (15-1) earned a chance to defend their state crown in the finals tonight at Blaisdell Arena at 5.

"I'm speechless," said Savea, who added 12 digs for a doube-double. "I'm really happy and excited for my team and it's going to be an interesting game tomorrow."

Saint Francis overcame the loss of sophomore middle Jennifer Lum, who badly sprained her knee in a win over Hana in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

After winning the regular-season title outright on Oct. 5, Saint Francis went 26 days before playing again in the state tournament.

To fill that time, coach Sonja Samsonas had her team scrimmage a bunch of Division I teams from the OIA, which helped keep the players in shape as they try to become the first repeat Division II champions since Hawaii Baptist won three straight from 2007 to 2009.

"That helped us stay motivated and we did pretty good against them," Samsonas said about the scrimmages. "We've really worked hard to stay motivated and stay disciplined all through the time we didn't play."

Junior Pualehua Keola had three aces to help the Saints squeak out a close win in Set 1.

Ka‘u senior middle Marley Strand-Nicolaisen, who had 26 kills in Wednesday's quarterfinal win over Waimea, did not play in the first set.

She finished with 12 kills and eight digs after starting the second set, in which the Trojans never led.

Despite Strand-Nicolaisen's appearance on the court, the Saints raced out to an 8-2 lead.

Ka‘u (17-3) pulled to a tie at 17-all, but three errors by the Trojans allowed Saint Francis to close the set on an 8-4 run.

The third set proved to be the closest, with the Trojans taking a late lead.

Consecutive service errors and two hitting errors by the Saints allowed Ka‘u to take a 24-23 lead and serve for the match.

Samsonas used her first timeout of the set to calm down her girls.

"Usually our serving is our bread and butter, but I also told them our defense and our passing can be our bread and butter," Samsonas said.

Savea tied the set at 24-all with a kill, and sophomore Alyssa Panis ended a solid rally with her fourth kill of the match to put the Saints up 25-24.

Savea had a swing to end the match but a diving dig by the Trojans kept them alive for one more hit.

Saint Francis had a free ball on its side of the net, and the set went right back to Savea, who put it down for the win.

"It was kind of obvious," Savea said about being set at the end. "We had to pick it up (at the end) and play our volleyball."

Senior Lexus Satele had 20 assists and Tashya Enos had nine assists and eight digs to lead the Saints.

Junior Toni Black and senior Kaila Olson had six kills apiece, and setter Kerrilyn Domondon had a match-high 28 assists and eight digs to lead the Dragons.

Samsonas said after the match that Lum won't be available to play tonight.

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