After winning its first Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball title, Ka‘u’s historic season just keeps getting better.
The Trojans defeated Waimea 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state tournament Wednesday at Honolulu’s Kalani High, becoming only the second BIIF team to advance to the semifinals.
Once again, Marley Strand-Nicolaisen raised her game, knocking down 26 kills to lead Ka‘u, which had received additional firepower from Kamalani Fujikawa (10 kills) and Kaila Olson (eight kills, three aces, one block).
No. 4 seed Ka‘u (17-2) plays No. 1 seed Saint Francis (14-1) at 5 p.m. today.
Hilo, then a Division II school, was the last BIIF team to reach the semifinals in 2009, but the Vikings lost to eventual state champion Hawaii Baptist Academy.
“The key to winning was how we played in the BIIF championship (against Konawaena),” Ka‘u coach Josh Ortega said. “The team played together, did what it had to do and clicked. The passing, setting, hitting and everything else was there.
“Cheering was a big factor. The whole bench was cheering whether we were winning or losing. The bench picked everybody up. It was a big factor and made the kids on the court stay positive and kept them focused.”
Saint Francis, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, beat Hana of the Maui Interscholastic League 27-25, 25-16, 26-19 behind Angel Savea’s 10 kills.
“We watched their game for a little while,” Ortega said. “They have one girl, No. 7 (Savea), who hits out of the back row and the outside and plays middle. She’s their go-to player. They hit a lot of balls out of the back row. We have to be ready with our block and our right-side defense. That’s our concern.”
The Trojans have a bit of history with the Saints, who swept them in the first round in 2010. Despite the daunting task of facing an ILH powerhouse and the defending state champs, Ortega pointed out that Ka‘u is peaking at the right time.
“Before the season, I gave a whole speech to the girls about setting little goals, to win game by game, then win the BIIF championship,” he said. “Now, we’re looking at the bigger picture. Just because we won here, that doesn’t mean we’re stopping. We have to keep going and stay focused.”
Meanwhile, the BIIF’s other title contenders lost, getting quickly relegated to consolation action.
In the quarterfinals, No. 3 Seabury Hall swept Hawaii Prep 25-17, 25-21, 25-14.
When Gabby Ratte wasn’t dishing out assists, she was pounding balls down. She led the Spartans (13-1), the MIL champion, with 27 assists and 12 kills.
Tiana Reynolds had 12 kills, Gabbie Ewing had 11, and McKenna Ventura added seven kills for Ka Makani (14-6), which play ILH No. 3 seed La Pietra (9-10) today at 7 p.m. at Farrington High.
In consolation action, BIIF Division II runner-up Konawaena downed ILH runner-up Hawaii Baptist (12-5) 27-25, 21-25, 15-8.
The Wildcats (14-6) next play Oahu Interscholastic Association No. 3 seed Kaimuki (6-11) for the consolation title on Friday at 8 a.m. at Blaisdell Arena.
OIA runner-up Mililani toppled BIIF champion Kamehameha-Hawaii 25-17, 25-20, 10-25, 25-23 in the quarterfinals. No stats were available.
The Warriors (17-1) play OIA No. 3 seed Moanalua (13-5) at 5 p.m. today at Kaimuki High.
In consolation action, BIIF runner-up Hilo dropped Kalani 25-18, 25-15. No stats were available.
The Vikings (16-3) next play OIA No. 5 seed Castle (12-6) for the consolation title on Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Blaisdell Arena.