BIIF volleyball: HPA loses to Kamehameha in playoff tuneup

KEAAU – Hawaii Prep is still rounding into volleyball shape with just a few matches left to turn into a finished product.

Kamehameha looked like the better polished team with a 25-14, 25-22, 25-17 swept in a BIIF match on Wednesday night at Koaia gym.

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The Warriors (10-1) probably can’t win the BIIF Division I regular-season title, which includes the league’s first berth to states.

But they can rely on Ka Makani (6-4) to play spoiler. On Friday, Hilo (10-0) travels to HPA.

Makua Lani (8-3) is in the driver’s seat for the Division II league title and its first state spot. The Lions have lost to Hilo, Kamehameha, and Kealakehe. They beat HPA in five sets.

At this point in the season, it’s about playoff seeding and quick-fix improvement.

Kamau Makaike played two sets, banged down seven kills in each and had 14 kills to lead Kamehameha. Chase Bridges-Hunter, who’s improving with each swing, smashed 11 kills, and Chyston Loa added nine kills.

Kala Thurston slammed six kills, Stormer Horton, Umi Kealoha, and David Welch Keliihoomalu had five kills each for Ka Makani, who struggled with their serve-receive passing.

The Warriors ripped six aces while Ka Makani had just one.

The Friday match is a crucial one for Hilo.

If the Vikings lose and finished tied with the Warriors, both state spots will be up for grabs in the four-team BIIF playoffs. Only the outright winner wins the regular season title.

HPA brings a lot of height, starting with senior opposite Welch Keliihoomalu, who’s 6 feet 6. Junior middle Kukila Lincoln is 6-5 and the other middle, Kealoha, is 6-2. Horton, a 6-3 senior hitter, and Thurston, a 6-0 senior hitter and All-BIIF first-team pick last year, are the two main guns.

“We’re doing OK. We’re still learning and getting better,” HPA coach Sharon Peterson said. “Most of the time we’ve done a nice job with our blocking. It’s one of our strengths.

“Different people have stepped up at different times. It’s mostly been Kala and Umi. David did a nice job on the right. He did a lot of good things. We just need a little more experience.”

In the first set, Kamehameha took a 17-11 lead and went on a closing 8-3 run, capped by a Ka Makani service error. Makaike and Bridges-Hunter led the way with seven an five kills, respectively.

HPA led 19-15 in Game 2, but the Warriors hung around, and Loa finished the set with a kill.

In the third set, Kamehameha bolted to a 23-10 cushion, and closed the match with a HPA service error.

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Next week, HPA hits the road to play Christian Liberty (5-4). The Canefire are fighting for the No. 2 seed. Ka Makani have a chance to play spoiler, gain experience and work on things for the playoffs.

“We’ve got a big one with Christian Liberty,” Peterson said. “We’re getting ready for the playoffs.”

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