On paper, Kamehameha is the preseason favorite in Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I volleyball, and Konawaena gets the nod in Division II.
Their papers were in order at the Waiakea Invitational. They advanced to the championship game, where Kamehameha dropped its first set of the tournament Saturday but outlasted the Wildcats 25-21, 23-25, 15-10.
“I think the experience of our players paid off,” Warriors coach Sam Thomas said. “We’ve got more club experience, more seniors and that made the difference.
“There was no panic after we dropped the set.”
Kamehameha senior outside hitter Kaiu Ahuna, the reigning BIIF Division I Player of the Year, was named Most Valuable Player in the Gold Division, and teammates Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker and Zoe Leonard made the all-tournament team.
Thomas signaled out the play of Makekau-Whittaker, a junior setter.
“Kamalu is really an outstanding setter and was able to control the ball,” Thomas said. “With her distributing, we’re hard to stop.”
The Wildcats’ Chanelle Molina earned most outstanding honors, while Konawaena’s Celena Molina and McKenna Ventura also landed on the all-tournament team. Thomas couldn’t help but notice the Wildcats have added a third Molina to the mix, freshman Cherilyn.
“Anybody named Molina is just an outstanding volleyball player,” Thomas said. “If I was younger I’d consider a name change.”
He said it was too early to call Kamehameha and Konawaena the clear-cut favorites, but their regular-season meeting Sept. 26 in Kealakekua is one to mark.
Also named to the all-tournament team were Waiakea’s Jordyn Hayashi and Kayla Kahauolopua, and Kyra Kaloi and Taylor Alicuben of Hilo.
In the Silver/Bronze division, Waiakea White rode MVP Cassie Enmase to the championship and a three-set victory against Ka‘u in the final.
Trojans setter Kerrilyn Domondon was named most outstanding, and the other all-tournament selections were Waiakea’s Kryssie Okinaka and Chelsea Guillermo, Ka‘u’s Bea Padrigo and Sky Esperon-Kakanaole, Honokaa’s Tehane Reynolds and Monica Muskat and Pahoa’s Lehua Keka and Daecee Subia.