Posted: October 30, 2012 - 11:54pm
Pearl City rallies to turn back Hilo in five set thriller
KAIMUKI - For Kaya Chong and the Chargers, playing like there's no tomorrow may have been the key to earning the right to do it all over again.
"Its our senior year, so we might as well go out with a bang and leave it all on the court." was the message Chong had for her teammates. "We're already down two sets, just give it your all."
The senior outside hitter definitely put into practice what she preached, putting down a match-high 20 kills to help rally Pearl City in a come-from-behind victory over Hilo in a five-set thriller, 22-25, 24-26, 25-19, 25-23, 15-12, earning the Chargers a quarterfinal berth in the New City Nissan/HHSAA state girls' volleyball championships.
"This is one of the best games for them." said Pearl City head coach Kory Toyozaki. "To come back from two down, we're actually used to starting strong and falling at the end so finishing strong is something that hats off to our girls."
Pearl City stayed with Hilo point-for-point in the first set, and led by as many as 5 points at 19-14. But the Vikings rallied to take the lead at 21-20 on an Amanda Loeffler spike, then claimed the set on a block followed by a pair of Chargers' hitting errors to win 25-22.
The Vikings would control the majority of set number two, and had the opportunity to close the set out at 24-19, but Chargers rallied late to tie the score at 24-all before an Evalani Toledo kill gave Hilo the lead and a Shaila Wilbur-Gabriel ace the win, 26-24.
Backs to the wall, Pearl City started off slow, but managed to find some rhythm offensively, with Chong picking up a trio of kills to give the Chargers an early 9-4 lead. Hilo would rally right back behind the service of Loeffler to tie the score at 9-all, but the Vikings would not get any closer in this set, as Pearl City would lead from that point on, leading by as many as 8 points at 21-13 before closing out the set at 25-19 when the Vikings gave up a point on a server-rotation error.
Set four came down to the wire once again, with Hilo teetering into the lead at 22-21 on a Loeffler spike, causing Pearl City to use the last of their timeouts. But a Kara Aiwohi kill and 2 hitting errors on Hilo turned the tide, and the Vikings were forced to call a timeout of their own to try and stop the momentum.
Loeffler's kill out of the break edged Hilo to within 24-23, but Chong would shut the door on set four with yet another kill to force a deciding game five.
With momentum clearly swinging in the direction of the purple and black, Pearl City took control of set five from get-go, blasting out to an 8-2 advantage on an Aiwohi kill. Hilo would stage a comeback of their own, creeping to within a point on a pair of Toledo kills at 9-8, and again at 13-12 courtesy of another Toledo swing, but it would be Chong who would put the exclamation point on the win, notching her twentieth kill at match point.
Johnai Kapua chipped in 9 kills and 4 blocks for the Chargers, who also got 4 aces from Kacie Chinen in the win.
Loeffler had a team-high 17 kills and 4 aces, and Toledo added 13 kills and two more aces for the Vikings, who served up 14 aces in total for the match.
Pearl City will take on OIA Red Division champion Kahuku in the 5 p.m. game Wednesday back at Kaimuki High School gymnasium.
October 30, 2012
Pearl City OH Kaya Chong gets set to put down a kill attempt against Hilo. Sean Nakamura | SL