St. Joseph knows what visiting Kohala, which faced a long, two-hour drive back home after losing in the first round of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation playoffs, is feeling.
Behind a barrage of well-balanced firepower, sparked by steady setter Georgia Pirie, St. Joseph swept the Cowgirls 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 in the BIIF Division II quarterfinals on Wednesday night at the Cardinals’ gym in a revenge rematch.
The season is over for the No. 5 seed Cowgirls (8-8), who lose two seniors in Sariah Medeiros and Shaylen Reyes-Galan. They last went to the state tournament in 1999, when there wasn’t statewide classification.
The No. 4 Cardinals (10-6) advanced to the BIIF semifinals and will play No. 1 seed Ka‘u (14-2) at 4 p.m. Friday at Kealakehe High for a berth in the Hawaii state tournament. The semifinal losers will play in the third-place game on Saturday at Konawaena High.
It’s the first time in four years the Cardinals have made it past the first round. The last time they qualified for the state tournament as the 2006 BIIF Division II champion.
Wednesday’s contest was a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff game. Kohala eliminated St. Joseph in Kapaau, and the Cowgirls later lost to Hawaii Prep in the semifinals and to Ka‘u in the third-place game.
Haley Thorsen pounded 16 kills, Alison Fuata had nine and Olivia Brinkman added five kills to power St. Joseph, which had far more offense with 33 kills to Kohala’s 15.
Hauoli Sproat-Lancaster had six kills, including four in the last set, and Medeiros contributed four kills for the Cowgirls, who didn’t have back-to-back kills until the third set.
All match long, the Cards served bullets and finished with 11 aces — six more than the Cowgirls. Thorsen led the way with four aces while Fuata and Nicole Smallwood had three each. Fiona Follett had an ace.
St. Joseph took the first set on the strength of superior firepower. Both teams had nearly the same amount of unforced errors, but the Cardinals had 10 kills to Kohala’s four.
The unforced error total was tied at 10 late in the set until Kohala served a ball into the antennae for the last point, falling 25-16 and setting a pattern of play it couldn’t seem to shake.
In the second set, Thorsen, who showed her skill at hitting a variety of shots, got into a good groove and blasted four straight kills during a seven-point run for a 12-3 cushion.
She finished the set with eight kills, exactly double that of Kohala. Sproat-Lancaster had the first kill of the set to cut the lead to 16-8, highlighting a struggling hitting attack.
In the last set, the Cowgirls produced back-to-back kills for the first time really late when Sproat-Lancaster hammered a shot and Medeiros followed. That made it 21-16, but St. Joseph was still ahead and ready to roll again after a service error.
The tough-serving Cardinals dealt six aces in the the third set, and Thorsen closed the match with her 16th kill.