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BIIF volleyball: Hard knocks don’t diminish Cardinal spirit

St. Joseph visited Waiakea and left the volleyball court in less than an hour but walked off with Cardinal coach Yvette Moran’s motto in mind: Keep up the good spirits.

Waiakea served 21 aces and swept the Cardinals 25-8, 25-4, 25-5 in a BIIF match on Thursday night at the Warriors Gym.

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The Cardinals (0-6) scored most of their points off unforced Waiakea errors (hitting, serving, ball-handling).

Senior Emma Faumuina, one of the few with experience, knocked down three kills to lead St. Joseph.

Cary Catrett slammed 14 kills, including seven in the third set, for the Warriors (4-0). Kelsi Imai and Michelle Vintero added six kills each.

“We’ve got a lot of spunk,” Moran said. “We don’t have a lot of girls with experience, but all we ask is for them to give it their all. They have good spirits.”

St. Joseph finished playing all the Division I schools (Hilo, Kamehameha, Keaau, Kealakehe, and Waiakea) and lost to all in straight sets and also fell to Parker in three.

“We play the D-II teams the rest of the way,” Moran said. “We fought all the D-I teams, and the girls kept their spirits up. Hopefully, we’ll do a little better going against D-II.”

Faumuina, sophomore libero Shannon Augustin, and junior setter Shilie Yurong are the returning starters.

Senior Mary Campbell is a first-year player, and the other starters are freshmen Paige Masulit and Kalih Rae Ioane-Ogawa, and sophomore Kehaulani DeCourt.

There are seven freshmen on the roster, including 6-foot MaKenzie Narvaez, who offers height, something the Cardinals lack. She was unavailable on Thursday.

The other freshmen are RyAnne Raffipy, Brooke-Lynn Andrade-Paiva, Zana Kimura and Kayla Dente, and the youth movement also includes sophomore Kyra Bockrath and junior Margaux Canellas Rey de Vinas.

The offense is centered around Faumuina, who has the most experience and the biggest load on her shoulders.

“There’s a lot of pressure on her and she tries to lead the team,” Moran said. “She works hard. We don’t have a lot of height. We tell them to give their best effort.

“Shilie is quiet but she goes out and does her job. Mary is our positive person. She tries to keep the team up. She’s good friends with Emma, and they help each other out.”

Moran also has help from assistant Jay Rowe, who coached the Hilo High boys and comes from the late Raymond Rowe coaching tree as a son with inherited court knowledge.

Last season, the Cardinals finished 7-9 in the Blue division, the lowest in the three-tier format, and didn’t qualify for the BIIF playoffs.

It’s still the same deal: the top two teams earn first-round byes, and the four others face off in elimination matches.

At least, the depth is better. Last season, the Cardinals didn’t know if they would field a team and had just a nine-player roster. There are 14 players this season.

St. Joseph will measure itself when Christian Liberty, last year’s No. 6 seed, visits next Wednesday at the school’s Walter Victor Gym.

The Cardinals are trying to build a foundation and every positive step is applauded, like someone taking a healthy swing.

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“It’s Paige’s first year, and she does whatever we ask her,” Moran said. “She wasn’t in the front row much, but we told her to go there, and she goes out and becomes aggressive.”

That’s something the coach appreciated as well as her team’s good spirits — the glue that holds the Cardinals together.