HHSAA Boys Volleyball
Seventh-ranked Trojans make quick work of sixth-ranked Warriors


Thu, May 5, 2022 @ Moanalua [ 5:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
MIL (15-2) 25 25 25 - - 3
KSM (13-3) 11 13 19 - - 0
Kill: K. Spencer (KSM) 13 kills
Ast: B. Yadao (MIL) 17 ast

SALT LAKE — Brayden Yadao recorded a team-high 13 kills and had three of his team's 13 service aces to help No. 7 Mililani make quick work of No. 6 Kamehameha-Maui Thursday night. 

The Trojans swept past the fourth-seeded Warriors by set scores of 25-11, 25-13 and 25-19 before a crowd of a few hundred spectators at Moanalua gymnasium to secure a spot in Friday's semifinal round of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division I Boys Volleyball State Championships. 

Mililani coach Gabriel Maunupau said his team knew very little about Kamehameha-Maui, the Maui Interscholastic League champion. 

"Not a whole lot. I mean, we weren't quite sure, but thankfully they have a website with a couple of videos and that's kind of what we sent out early," said Maunupau, whose team finished second in the Oahu Interscholastic Association and was coming off of a sweep of Campbell in Monday's opening round of the state tournament. 

"I mean, not that we were trying to look too far ahead of Campbell, but we wanted to anticipate who the potential next team is gonna be and that's kind of what we did and man, I did not expect them to be this big to be honest with you; They're a very physical team," Maunupau said of the Warriors. 

It's not just that the Trojans (14-1) had little info on the Warriors (12-2), but they also were relegated to practicing at other schools both Tuesday and Wednesday due to their own gym being unavailable. They were able to utilize Leilehua Tuesday and Waipahu the following day. 

"It's always tough, but I think what's good is it kind of created a sense of urgency because we had to focus," Maunupau said. "We didn't have that opportunity to practice for three hours, or three and a half hours. We really had to focus in those two hours and be there early and it kind of made us focus in a little bit more early on what we needed to do to prepare."

Maunupau's team did not sputter out of the gates. Although KS-Maui took an early 5-2 lead after its standout, Kale Spencer, recorded a solo block on Mililani's top pin hitter, Manase Fetulimoeata, things unraveled quickly for the Warriors. 

A lift call was followed by three consecutive hitting errors by KS-Maui, which was part of an 8-2 Mililani run. Pookela Aiu's kill off an assist from Jai Viela cut the Trojans' lead to 10-8, but they responded with a 13-1 run capped by a double-contact violation on the Warriors to take command of the opening set. 

James Saffery went cross court with his kill from the right side to set-up set point and Trevin Matsuba served up an ace to close it out, 25-11. 

Maunupau was pleased to see his team answer the Warriors' challenge early on. 

"I mean, it's hard. Maui's competition is always challenging and you never really quite see how tough they are until they play us and so it was kind of good to see that at least we responded a little earlier than we normally would," he said.

The Trojans hit .333 in the opening set, while the Warriors hit at a negative .167 clip. 

Mililani seized control of set 2 early on. Manase Fetulimoeata tooled the block off an assist from Brycen Yadao and Saffery followed with an ace to put their team ahead, 4-2.

The Trojans served up two more aces in the second set — both of them by Fetulimoeata, who had three total — and used runs of 8-0 and 7-2 to force a timeout by the Warriors with the score, 19-6. The teams exchanged points before Brayden Yadao scored two of the final three points of the set to finish it off, 25-13. 

Mililani recorded five more aces from the service line in game 3, two of them by Brayden Yadao. 

KS-Maui got an ace by Dylan Schnitzer — one of just two it had for the match — and on the very next play, an overpass by the Trojans allowed Cody Gardanier to put down his only kill of the night to pull his team to within 15-12. However, the Trojans retaliated with kills by Saffery and Stephen Kanuch sandwiched around a Brayden Yadao ace to make it an 18-12 cushion. 

The Warriors cut it to 21-18 with a kill by Spencer out of the back row, but Brayden Yadao answered with his 13th kill on the ensuing play and then teamed with Kanuch on back-to-back blocks to give their team match point. Two plays later, an attack error by KS-Maui — one of its 19 for the match — closed out the contest. 

Spencer led KS-Maui with 13 kills on 28 swings. He had six attack errors and hit .250 for the match. Neutralizing Spencer was a key part of the game plan, Maunupau said. 

"The kid is so physical," Maunupau said of the 6-foot-5 Spencer. "I mean, man, what a match he had, trying to hit from the back row, front row and setting. Thankfully we were able to get in front of a couple of situations and it worked out, for sure. I think the good part is we're working on what and who we need to block at times and focusing in on those key hitters to give ourselves a better defensive opportunity to try to transition and score points."

The Warriors, who had a bye in Monday's opening round, hit .000 for the match with 19 kills and 19 attack errors on 67 total swings. 

The Trojans recorded 34 kills against 13 errors on 72 total swings for a .292 hitting percentage. Brycen Yadao tallied 17 assists and seven digs and Fetulimoeata and Matsuba added six digs apiece. Saffery contributed 11 assists, seven kills, four digs and two aces. 

Mililani will play top-ranked Punahou, which swept past No. 10 Roosevelt in the late quarterfinal at Moanalua Thursday. 

"Oh man, I mean, you're talking about the best team in the state and that's kind of where the standard is for us," Maunupau said. "Even though we may not have necessarily won, I think we've played well against Punahou in the past. We've competed and so I expect us to have a good showing at the very least, so we're excited."

The semifinal between the Trojans and Buffanblu is scheduled for 5 p.m. Fourth-ranked Moanalua will meet second-ranked Kamehameha in the late semifinal. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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