HHSAA Girls Volleyball
Damien hands Waimea first loss, claims D2 crown


Sat, Oct 26, 2019 @ Blaisdell [ 5:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
WAIM (14-1) 19 11 14 - - 0
DMS (16-1) 25 25 25 - - 3

KAKAAKO — Rayne Pactol made sure her fellow seniors — and their coach — went on out top Saturday.

The Damien outside hitter put down a match-high 10 kills with a .345 hitting percentage to lead the Monarchs to their first state crown with a sweep of Waimea in the title match of the New City Nissan Division II Girls Volleyball State Championships at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena Saturday.

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Monarchs (16-1), who were seeded first in the 12-team state tournament, won their final 16 matches after a season-opening loss to La Pietra on Aug. 14.

"The focus the entire season was, as we would move forward and progress and as we were winning matches, I always would tell the girls that's, ‘it's OK to look at the W, but let's look at the one loss and that'll remind us to stay humble and stay grounded and to stay hungry,' and I think that kind of did it for us," Damien coach Don Faumuina said. "Every time we would win, we would refer back to Aug. 14 — I'll never forget the date — that's the last time we dropped a match. I think that was crucial for us."

Damien had a bye in Wednesday's opening round of the state tournament, then swept past Kalani in Thursday's quarterfinals before being pushed to five sets by fourth-seeded Seabury Hall in Friday's semifinal round.

Waimea (13-1), the number two seed in the tournament and Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion, also had a first-round bye. It edged Hawaii Prep in a five-set quarterfinal Thursday, but was coming off of a semifinal sweep of ILH runner-up University Lab Friday.

It was the Monarchs, however, that brought the energy to Saturday's match.

"We were thinking to ourselves that we deserve this and we worked really hard to get where we are and we didn't come all this way just to lose, so we stayed focused together and we pushed through every point," Pactol said. "There was no fatigue; it's all the mindset."

Faumuina said his team's mental approach made a big difference throughout the week of the state tournament and the season as a whole.

"Absolutely, absolutely. I love the fact that the girls, their mindset was that it was all about the team and there was not one person that was more important than the other, no drama, so we were very fortunate," said Faumuina, who announced before the state tournament that he would be stepping down after the season.

"No better way to go out," Faumuina said. "We had challenges the entire season, our championship week for the (ILH), they had to re-do the gym floors — I don't know why — so we had to go looking for another gym. Same thing with the state tournament, the floors weren't done yet, so we had to go look for another gym and even after all of that the girls were able to persevere and came out with the W."

Waimea held an 18-16 lead in the opening set following a Kepler Niccore kill out of the middle. However, Damien used a 9-1 run that included five attack errors and two net violations by the Menehunes, to close out game 1.

The Monarchs used a couple of 4-0 runs early in game 2 to take a 13-7 lead and separated with a 9-0 run that included five more attack errors, a net violation and a center line violation by Waimea to easily take the set.

It was more of the same in game 3. Damien got kills from Kaira Wengler, Heavenly Campbell and Tia-Marie Kekipi-Nuuanu, followed by a Del Kalulu-Sugai service ace to jump out to a 4-0 lead. It never trailed in the set and closed out the match by scoring seven of the final eight points.

Pactol had five kills in the third set, her last coming on match point. The 5-foot-7 senior took 29 swings without committing an error and contributed 11 digs.

"Rayne, my senior, she's played for me for three years," Faumuina said. "She's just so confident up there on the line, very smart, very methodical the way that she plays and she's been very consistent throughout the season for us."

Division II All-Tournament Team

Most Outstanding Player
Del “Kaulana” Kalulu-Sugoi, Damien

Milan Ah Yat, University Laboratory
Heavenly “Lala” Campbell, Damien
Ella Connor, Seabury Hall
Braeanna Moises, Waimea
Rayne Pactol, Damien
Aiyani Park, Damien
Raelee Samio, Waimea

Wengler had eight kills, seven digs and an ace, Kalulu-Sugai recorded 22 assists, 16 digs and three kills and libero Aiyani Park logged a match-high 22 digs and three of Damien's six aces (against just one service error).

For the week, the Monarchs had 22 aces against 16 errors from the service line. Whatsmore, they forced a combined 22 errors in serve-receive by their opponents in their three state tournament matches.

"Our service coach, George Ehia, was really crucial calling the right service areas and the girls responding to that and coming in clutch for that as well," Faumuina said.

The Monarchs were keen to slow down, or at least attempt to, Waimea's 6-foot outside hitter Raelee Samio, who had 15 kills against Hawaii Prep Thursday and 17 against University Lab Friday.

"We focused on her," Faumuina said of Samio. "We wanted to serve her, maybe try see how she can handle the pass and then get out and hit and try and get her tired, that was the focus, and we were able to get them a little bit out of system, which worked in our favor."

Pactol said the players gathered at noon Saturday to watch film on the Menehunes and structured their defense around what they saw.

"Our game plan was for the blockers to stay low and tight and to leave that line shot because we play rotate defense and we could just pick up balls every day going around the block," Pactol said.

Samio finished with eight kills against 11 attack errors on 39 total swings. The Menehunes hit minus-.067 as a team.

"We came out firing in that first set and we were going point-for-point and we just went into a valley and the momentum totally changed and I'm not sure what happened," Waimea coach Brandi Hori Moises said.

Setter Braeanna Moises had 15 assists, 10 digs and a kill and Maya Nakaahiki added 11 digs, two assists and an ace in the loss.

Waimea was seeking its first state championship in program history. No team from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation has ever won a state title.

"For this team, I mean, they've been through a thousand tribulations and a whole lot of adversity and they've overcome a lot, so for them to get to this stage, it's a huge accomplishment for them," Hori Moises said.

Damien became the fourth consecutive team from the ILH to win the D2 state title. It had lost in the semifinals in each of the past two seasons and went on to finish third both times, including a two-set sweep of Waimea to end the 2018 season.

"I feel overwhelmed and this doesn't feel real because the last three years I've played on (varsity), we fell short in the state tournament in the semifinals and now to see all the hard work that everyone put it, it paid off in the end," Pactol said.

After years of hardships and heartaches, the Monarchs and their fifth-year coach went out on top.

"It feels amazing. We did everything for him," Pactol said.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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