OIA Girls Volleyball
No. 4 Mililani rallies past No. 6 Kapolei in 5


  



Mon, Sep 16, 2019 @ Kapolei [ 7:00 pm ]


FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
MIL (13-0) 19 14 25 26 15 3
KAP (11-2) 25 25 21 24 8 2
Kill: A. Miller (MIL) 15 kills
Ast: A. Kepa (KAP) 43 ast

KAPOLEI — After dropping its first two sets of the season Monday night, No. 4 Mililani turned the tide on sixth-ranked Kapolei in a meeting of undefeated teams.

The visiting Trojans (5-0) rallied to a five-set win over the Hurricanes (4-1) to seize sole possession of first place in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I West standings. The set scores were 19-25, 14-25, 25-21, 26-24 and 15-8.

"I think this win gives us a lot of encouragement and it gives us an incentive to keep pushing until the end, especially with other teams in the East that we know are big challenge to us and I think it's a learning lesson of what can happen if we have jitters in the beginning, but now we know how to go from that and just build off of it," Trojans senior outside hitter Falanika Danielson said.

Aria Miller put down a match-high 17 kills to go with four aces, Danielson added 14 kills and an ace and Aysia Miller dished out 31 assists with six kills for Mililani.

Mililani was out of sorts in serve-receive for much of the first two sets. When it was able to get the ball to its pin hitters, they were met by a formidable Kapolei block and some spectacular back row defense, specifically from Hurricanes' libero Ayanna Nunuha.

"It was tough not to get frustrated at points because then we realized that it's not normal, like in the past games that we've played it was never long rallies, but Kapolei really played a great game, kept picking up all of our hits and then from that point on we realized like, it's time to switch it up with (our) shots," said Danielson, the reigning OIA West Player of the Year.

Kapolei used a 9-1 run to break open an 8-all tie in the opening set. The ‘Canes benefitted from six hitting errors and three service errors by the Trojans in game 1 and another eight hitting errors and one service error in game 2, when it closed out the set with a 8-1 run.

Danielson said as the match played out the team got more comfortable.

"Definitely, because it's not normal for us to have constant shanks on serve-receive and especially on free balls that should be a given, but I feel like after that we started to find our rhythm and started working together as a team," Danielson said.

Aysia Miller added that the adjustments the team made were not of the tactical variety. Instead, it was more a matter of digging deep within themselves.

"The first two sets obviously we were in a mental break and we knew that we could've turned that around easily if we just were on our game and pushed hard," said Miller, a senior setter/opposite. "It came down to ball control and also kind of just having the heart. I like to say that volleyball is a very big mental game and for my team to just turn it around like that, it just proves that we have the heart and drive."

Trojans coach Val Crabbe credited assistant Pii Gora for lighting a fire under the players between the second and third sets.

"In all honesty I'm probably going to attribute it to some inspiration from my assistant coach," Crabbe said. "I have no idea what he said because I was too busy turning in my lineup, but whatever he talked to them about it really worked and they did well."

Miller provided some clarification as to Gora's message to the team.

"Our coach actually said to us right before the third set that ‘we're going to five sets, we're going to drive and push to win and we have the heart and the skill level to do that,' and from that point on we knew that we had to push hard and win," Miller explained.

Danielson did her best to echo Gora's words and implore her team to continue to chip away against the ‘Canes.

"Honestly, from that point on I kept trying to tell the girls like, ‘we have the skill, we just have to execute it.' I think most of it was just jitters," Danielson said. "Everybody was coming in excited for the game, but once it happened everyone just seemed like we were playing scared and it was like everything we worked on just went out the door and from that point on all our goal was was, ‘we're taking it to five, no questions asked,' that was our goal and from that point on, every point it was a thing where we would just come in and we'd celebrate whether it was a mistake or an actual point we earned."

Mililani jumped out to leads of 4-0 and 13-4 and held off a late charge by Kapolei to take set 3.

The Hurricanes went on a 6-1 run in set 4 to pull ahead, 21-19. However, the Trojans scored the final four points of the set after being down 24-22 to even the match. After an Aria Miller service ace made it set point, Danielson went off the block and out from the left side for the final point.

The fifth set started with an ace by the Jaelyn Tang and the Trojans never relinquished the lead. They went up 7-1 on another Miller service ace that found the back line.

Later in the set, Mililani reeled off three straight points to go up 12-5. Aria Miller put away a set from her older sister Aysia, then Danielson skied from the back row for another kill, before Tang went down the line for her only kill of the set off a backset from the elder Miller.

Aria Miller put away match point with a kill from the right side to complete the comeback.

The Trojans played without middle blocker Emma Berry. Crabbe praised junior Emilina Merafuentes for filling in for Berry.

"(Berry has) been out of practice two days because she's been sick, so our (Merafuentes) played the whole time and she did an amazing job; it's not easy," Crabbe said.

Kailana Andrade and Kawehi Marinas had 14 kills apiece for Kapolei, which out-blocked the Trojans, 11 to 4. Alizaysha Sopi chipped in 11 kills and three aces and Alexis Kepa recorded 43 assists in the loss.

"You know what, they're a good team," Crabbe said. "I mean, that's the biggest block we've come up against consistently. We've come up against Waianae with a big block, Nanakuli had some great blocking, but constantly across the front, they were really good."

Kapolei fell to fourth place and will host Aiea Wednesday night. Na Alii are tied with Waianae for second place with identical 5-1 records.

Mililani will host fifth-place Leilehua (2-3) Wednesday.



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].


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