By MATT GERHART
Two years ago, Kohala’s girls volleyball team was stuck in the upper half of the BIIF’s two-tiered regular season, and it entered the playoffs 0-16.
Life on the court is a lot more manageable for the Cowgirls since the BIIF went to three tiers in 2016. Kohala ended a long HHSAA tournament drought last season, and they are a year older and wiser this season. So much so that when BIIFs roll around next month, Kohala will be considered one of the Division II favorites.
In a battle of top contenders Tuesday night in Kapaau, Kohala edged Hawaii Prep 25-16, 26-28, 25-17, 12-25, 15-11, breaking away from a tight Game 5 on the strength of solid serving from Zaz Matsu and defense.
“It was a roller-coaster,” coach Nick Lorenzo said. “Five sets, there was a lot of game to watch.”
Juniors Mikalya Kekoa and Shania Fuertes led the way with 13 and 11 kills, respectively, junior Kiana Kauka served five aces and Anaiyah-Lee Tabiolo came up with 13 digs for Kohala (6-4 White Division), which followed a game plan to try and deny Ka Makani standout senior Madi Lee.
“Lee gets a lot of sets, but we positioned ourselves to keep the ball in play.”
Ka Makani (6-3 Red Division) became the presumptive D-II favorite last week when they swept three-time champion Konawaena on its home floor, though the Wildcats were playing without their best outside hitter, Cherilyn Molina. Earlier this season at its county gym, the Wildcats (3-5 Red) beat Kohala in four sets.
As part of the middle-tiered White Division, the Cowgirls play each BIIF team once.
Lorenzo certainly wouldn’t mind a second meeting with HPA and Konawaena at BIIFs.
“I definitely think we can compete this year,” he said. “Konawaena has been dominant for so long, and HPA has been nipping at their toes. Hopefully, we will be there with them.”