On the verge of defeat, Leilehua turned again to its go-to player.
Ashlee Vaoifi had 26 kills, including the match-ending kill, to help the Mules to a 26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 9-25, 17-15 win over fourth-seeded Hawaii Prep in last night’s quarterfinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Girls Volleyball State Championships at McKinley High School.
Leilehua (13-4) advances to play top-seeded University High (16-3) in tonight’s semifinal at 7 at McKinley.
"We just pushed hard and remembered the last time we were in the same situation," Vaoifi said. "We could always come back. Nothing is impossible. We had to push hard. Our team is never giving up."
Ka Makani (13-1) served for the match at 14-12, but Kayla Kilaulani’s kill and Samantha Talaeai’s service ace helped the Mules tie the match at 14-14 in Set 5. Talaeai’s service error put Hawaii Prep at match point again, but Vaoifi responded with a kill to tie it at 15-15.
Tatiana Alailima’s service ace gave the Mules match point, and Vaoifi’s ninth kill of the set ended the match. Vaoifi had nine of her team’s 11 kills in the final set.
"She’s our go-to player. We were going to keep setting her until they started picking her up," said Leilehua setter Krystin Kubo.
Vaoifi said she was ready to help her team.
"The team trusts me, and we trust each other," Vaoifi said. "They trust me to get it in, though I messed up on that one point. And we switched up a little bit with our hitters (in Set 5)."
Leilehua bounced back from a poor showing in Set 4 that saw its passing game fall apart and its bench brought into the match.
"When we won Set 3, we backed down and stopped communicating," Kilaulani said.
Leeta Grap had 17 kills, Lana Queen had 14 and Katie Ho had 12 for Hawaii Prep. Ka Makani trailed 11-9 in Set 5 before Grap’s kill and a Leilehua hitting error put them ahead 14-12.
"They communicated with each other well," Kubo said. "Even if they made a bad play, they communicated."
Talaeai added 11 kills for the Mules in the two-hour match that left the team exhausted.
"Everybody is emotionally tired, but this where we have to push hard, and we’re doing a good job of it," Kubo said.
Waimea def. Seabury Hall 25-21, 25-16
Leilehua def. Hawaii Prep 26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 9-25, 17-15
University def. Kalaheo 25-27, 25-21, 25-13, 25-9
Kau def. Honokaa 25-21, 25-14
Molokai def. St. Francis 25-16, 25-13, 25-19
Hawaii Baptist def. Roosevelt 25-16, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21
Hawaii Prep vs. Kalaheo, 5 p.m.
Leilehua vs. University, 7 p.m.
St. Francis vs. Roosevelt, 5 p.m.
Molokai vs. Hawaii Baptist, 7 p.m.