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St. Francis overcomes another hurdle on way to state semifinals

By Jason Kaneshiro


Saint Francis had already overcome some adversity to position itself as the top seed in the HHSAA/New City Nissan Division II Girls Volleyball State Championship.

The Saints endured another dose Wednesday night to advance in the bracket.

Saint Francis, the defending Division II state champion, reached the semifinals with a sweep of Hana at Kalani High School gym. But the 27-25, 25-16, 25-19 victory was tempered by the loss of middle blocker Jennifer Lum to an apparent knee injury.

"She's been our go-to middle from the beginning and her defense really helps our team," Saint Francis coach Sonja Samsonas said. "I think it's a little bit shocking for us, but these girls have been through a lot this season and I think they're going to keep on going and persevering."

Saint Francis held off a furious Hana rally in the first set and was in control of the second when Lum, a sophomore, landed awkwardly after taking a swing and crumpled to the floor.

Trainers attended to her as she clutched her knee and had to be assisted from the court with an air cast on her leg.

"We told the girls to stay mentally strong and she would want the best for us and keep going and playing hard and come out with the win," Saint Francis senior Angel Savea said. "Everyone stayed together and made sure we stayed in sync."

The Saints had lost a key player earlier in the year when Kalei Mau, one of the leaders of last year's state title run, transferred out of the school. The Saints rallied to go 13-1 in ILH play to earn a shot at defending the crown.

"With everything that's been going on we overcame it as team and it made us stronger," said Savea, who tied for the team high with 10 kills in the win over Hana.

Saint Francis will face fourth-seeded Ka‘u in a semifinal match today at 5 p.m. at Kalani. The Trojans rallied from a set down to defeat Waimea in the Wednesday's first quarterfinal match at Kalani.

Saint Francis' quarterfinal match was its first since closing the ILH season on Oct. 5. The Saints tried to stay sharp in the 26-day break with scrimmages against OIA Division I teams such a Castle, Kalani and Moanalua, but still had to shake off some rust early against Hana, which is making its first state tournament appearance since 2005.

The Saints led 24-21 in the first set before Hana ran off the next four points and took the lead on a kill by Shalen-Brae Ho‘opai. After a timeout, Lum tied it with a kill in the middle and a Hana error and Alyssa Panis' third kill of the set allowed the Saints to escape.

Saint Francis pulled away from Hana in the second with a 7-0 run midway through the set and took control in the third with a 10-0 spurt highlighted by three service aces by Tashya Enos.

"They were trying too hard after (the first set)," Hana coach Louis Ho‘opai said. "The first set you could see they were more together, when they jell that's the best part of volleyball."

Pakalani Helekahi-Cass and Jaynalee Ho‘opai both finished with nine kills to lead the Dragons, who play Waimea in a fifth-place bracket game at 5 p.m. at Farrington.

Ka‘u 3, Waimea 1

The Trojans hadn't spent much time in the championship bracket in their previous appearances in the Division II tournament, but extended their stay with the comeback against the Menehunes.

Senior Marley Strand-Nicolaisen put down 26 kills in Ka‘u's 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 win.

"Entering the state tournament any win means a lot," first-year Ka‘u coach Joshua Ortega said. "The years I came as an assistant coach we made it, we lost the first game and we'd go from there. …Getting this win is great."

Ka‘u went two-and-out in last year's tournament and advanced thanks in part to sophomore setter Kerrilyn Domondon distributing sets to Strand-Nicolaisen, Kamalani Fujikawa (10 kills) and Kaila Olson (eight kills).

Lei Alejandro led Waimea with 13 kills while Mariyah Oliver had 12 and two blocks.

Farrington 3, La Pietra 1

Trinity Alualu and Savannah Kahakai each had 12 kills as the Governors survived the scrappy Panthers 25-22, 20-25, 25-19, 25-17.

Farrington moves on to play Seabury Hall at 7 p.m. today at Kalani.

Jeneva Toilolo ruled the net for the Governors with nine kills and nine blocks while Shaunalei Kahakai passed out 21 assists.

Ariana Sattler had 20 kills for La Pietra, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Carmen Sharkey dished out 29 assists for the Panthers, who move to the consolation bracket to play Hawaii Prep at 7 p.m. today at Farrington.

It was the first time a team had taken a set from Farrington at home since the Governors beat Moanalua in early September. It was Farrington's 10th straight win.

Seabury Hall 3, Hawaii Prep 0

Gabby Ratte was all over the place for the Spartans, putting down 12 kills and dishing out 27 assists in a 25-17, 25-21, 25-14 sweep of Ka Makani.

Regal Deen-Jackson provided nine kills for Seabury Hall, while Amy Ozee put down eight kills. The Spartans play Farrington at 7 p.m. today at Kalani with a spot in the championship on the line.

Tiana Reynolds had 12 kills and Gabbie Ewing 11 for Hawaii Prep.


Kaimuki def. Kailua 25-20, 17-25, 15-13

Konawaena def. Hawaii Baptist 27-25, 21-25, 15-8

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State girls volleyball scores

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