Once Makua Lani and Hawaii Prep stopped beating themselves, order was restored to the BIIF Division II volleyball universe.
Despite a ton of self-inflicted mistakes, the Lions eliminated Konawaena 25-18, 27-24, 22-25, 25-22 and Ka Makani outlasted Christian Liberty 25-16, 14-25, 25-23, 25-22 on Wednesday night at the Vikings gym.
Makua Lani (10-4) and HPA (9-5) battle for the BIIF title at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Viking gym.
The season is over for the Wildcats (7-8), the two-time BIIF runner-up, and the Canefire (8-7).
Ka Makani is shooting for its third straight crown while the Lions, in their second year, are playing for their first championship. They went 2-10 in the blue division last year, the lowest of the league’s three tiers.
Elliott Veisauyadra pounds 14 kills, including seven in the fourth set, to lead the Lion, who took a 2-0 lead, then lost all of their momentum with mental mistakes before recovering.
Kahoku Benson led the way with 16 kills for the Lions, who had 47 unforced errors, seven more than the ‘Cats.
In Game 3, Konawaena scored six straight points to grab a 21-19 lead. The Lions had four unforced errors and surrendered two aces, a reversal from their play in the first two sets. Down the stretch in each set, they had no giveaway points.
Sergio Cancino, who had 18 kills, pounded down set point.
In the fourth set, Elliott and Cancino, who had eight kills in Game 4, engaged in a back-and-forth kill battle. During a seven-point Makua Lani run, Veisauyadra drilled three straight kills and had another for a 22-19 lead.
He added another kill and a solo block for a 24-22 lead. The Wildcats had a hitting error for match point. The Lions reached their goal of reaching BIIF championship for the first time.
“In the beginning of the season, we all set a goal to reach the BIIF championship,” he said. “We worked super hard, and we got it. It feels good, but there’s still work to get done.”
Makua Lani coach Ryenn Sotelo credited the Benson brothers, Kahoku and Kaipono, for helping the Lions maintain their composure.
“The first two sets we played decent,” he said. “ Then we had a lot of errors. We have to clean that up for the championship. Our two captains helped the boys stay calm. Kaipono was encouraging the team.”
Like the Lions, Ka Makani had more unforced errors but just by a hair. HPA had 36 giveaway points while the Canefire committed 35 unforced errors.
More significantly, HPA never got comfortable, struggling with its ball-control and putting a handle on Josh Rushton, who pounded a match-high 24 kills. Jerry Becker added nine kills.
Ka Makani was far more balanced with better firepower. Umi Kealoha was a force in the middle with 16 kills, Kala Thurston swung with authority and added 11 kills, and Stormer Horton had nine kills.
In the fourth set, it was tied 21-21, and it was CLA’s turn to beat itself. The Canefire had a service error, followed by a hitting error and trailed 23-21.
Rushton rammed a shot to cut the score to 23-222, but David Welch Keliihoomalu, who’s 6 feet 6, answered with his fourth kill of the set, and a Canefire hitting error closed the match.
The Lions and Ka Makani have been Division II’s best teams throughout the season. Neither played their best in the semifinals but both stopped beating themselves long enough to survive. And that’s what mattered most for both.