Youth volleyball: Pilipaa advances to second stage of nationals


After breezing through the first day with a perfect record, Pilipaa started fast Saturday with two wins before dropping its first match in pool play of the 41st AAU National Volleyball Championship tournament in Orlando, Florida.

The Big Island girls high school-level team improved to 5-1 in matches through Saturday’s second round of the tournament’s 17s Premium Division.

Pilipaa registered two lopsided wins Saturday, beating Inside Out 17 Black Magic of Michigan, 25-13, 25-14, and North Atlanta Volleyball Club 17U, 25-9-25-10.

But in the Big Islanders’ final match of the day, they fell to a tall and talented CJV 17 Infinity team from North Carolina, 25-16, 25-22.

According to Pilipaa head coach Chris Leonard, his team played “superb volleyball” in its two wins Saturday. But in the loss to the North Carolina squad, he said the Big Islanders struggled with early passing, serving and hitting.

In Game 2, Pilipaa cleaned up its mistakes and served well to neutralize the North Carolina squad’s size advantage.

”We had not been on the losing end of a lopsided game prior to this match, so I was pleased that the girls were able to put that game behind them and put up a great fight against a very good team,” Leonard said.

“We finished in second place in the pool and will advance to play NASA 17-1, Pineapple Sport-One 17 and Elite VBTC 17 Black on Sunday. We remain in the hunt for the tournament championship. Our girls are looking forward to another challenging day in the gym Sunday.”

Leonard said Pilipaa will need to finish either No. 1 or 2 in Sunday’s pool play to advance to a challengers bracket, with the top teams fighting to stay in gold medal contention.

“We know we can play against these teams,” Leonard said. “We’re right there. But as you move along in the tournament, you’ve got to get better. We need to get better and it’s going to be a challenge Sunday. Our goal is to keep winning.”