comscore Molokai bests ‘Iolani in Ann Kang | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Molokai bests ‘Iolani in Ann Kang

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The Farmers have a star and multiple options.

Molokai High middle hitter Kalei Adolpho, who will play volleyball and basketball next year for the University of Hawaii, is undoubtedly the center of attention. Her hard hits and 6-foot-1 frame elevate her above the competition.

But the Farmers exhibited their multiple offensive options in yesterday’s 25-15, 17-25, 15-12 win over host ‘Iolani in a championship-round match on the second day of the Ann Kang Invitational. Kalei Vaivai led Molokai with seven kills, Adolpho had six and Kailana Ritte-Camara had five.

The 16-team tournament, featuring local volleyball teams along with squads from California, Texas and Taiwan, finishes today. Though Molokai won, it did not advance out of pool play to the gold championship bracket, which produces the overall winner. Molokai and ‘Iolani will both compete in the silver bracket today.

“We got a great supporting cast,” Molokai coach Matt Helm said. “We have two outsides — Vaivai and Kailana — they’re great passers and defenders, and our opposite is a good blocker.”

The Farmers have been learning and adjusting to each other on the fly. They had two days of practices before starting tournament play on Thursday. They’ve yet to figure out each other, but saw a glimpse of what they could be in yesterday’s win.

“We just became a varsity team,” Ritte-Camara said. “We wanted to see what we got. We wanted to see what’s our best potential. We wanted to push through.”

Eesha Chun-Dela Cruz led the Raiders with nine kills and Sara Watanabe had five.
Watanabe’s kill tied the third frame at 9-9, the fourth tie of the set. Three straight ‘Iolani errors gave the Farmers a 12-9 lead, but the Raiders cut the deficit to 13-12 after kills from Haley Robinson and Chun-Dela Cruz. After a Molokai timeout, ‘Iolani’s service error put the Farmers at match point and Vaivai’s kill ended the match.

Making it out of pool play and into yesterday’s winner’s bracket was a great feat for the Farmers. It’s the furthest they have advanced in the past three years of tournament play.

“It’s really satisfying because the first time we came here, it was like ‘oh my gosh, we suck,’ ” Ritte-Camara said. “Then we got better and this year we want to fulfill our goals. It made us realize we can, and again next year.”

‘Iolani used a 10-3 run to pull away in the second set by serving tough and throwing off the Farmers’ passing.

“We served a little bit more aggressive and we took care of the ball on our side — on serve-receive, passing and free balls — so we put ourselves in a position where we could score,” ‘Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng said.

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