HHSAA Girls Volleyball
Owls edge Junior 'Bows to capture first D2 state volleyball title


Fri, Nov 10, 2023 @ BYU-Hawaii [ 5:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
ULS (11-6) 25 14 20 25 12 2
MPI (12-4) 17 25 25 21 15 3

LAIE — Mission accomplished. 

No. 9 Mid-Pacific staved off a valiant charge from No. 10 University Lab in five sets to lay claim to its first-ever state title Friday night. 

A crowd of about 1,000 fans at the Cannon Activities Center saw the Owls (12-4) fend off the Junior ‘Bows (11-6) in the final match of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II State Championships. The set scores were 17-25, 25-14, 25-20, 21-25 and 15-12. 

"This feels really good and especially since we're leaving this legacy for the other girls next year and hopefully they can do as good as us next year," said senior Payton Smith, who led Mid-Pacific with 20 kills and was selected as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. 

After University rode a 7-0 run to take the first set, Mid-Pacific returned the favor with runs of 8-0 and 7-0 to run away with set 2. The Owls churned out an 8-0 run midway through set 3 and held off the Junior ‘Bows the rest of the way to go up two sets to one. University seized command of set 4 early on and eventually closed it out by putting away three of the final four points to even the match and send it to a deciding fifth set. 

The Junior ‘Bows took an early lead in set 5 on a Miliana Sylvester kill. However, the Owls scored the next four points, the last of them coming on the most unlikely of plays. While she was already on the floor, Eva Hand somehow managed to contact the ball, which just cleared the net, rolled along the top edge, then fell onto the University side of the court, well after the Junior ‘Bows had thought the play was over. 

"That play was crazy. All of us were cheering, all of us thought the ball was dead and then Eva got it up and she was pointing at it, looking at it and we all saw it right away and I guess ULS didn't realize she got it up and it just rolled over and we got the point and we cheered just so loud after that, my ears were ringing after. We were just so happy, that was a point that we really needed in the fifth set," Smith said. 

The teams traded points until University clawed its way back to tie it at 12 on a kill by Sylvester in the middle. However, an untimely service error was followed by an attack that landed out to set-up match point for the Owls. Brooke Eglinton put away the final point off an assist from Milan Scanlan to finish off the match. 

"We made less errors, that's it," Mid-Pacific coach David Bayne said of the final points of set 5. 

"The girls deserve all of it. It's an achievement and we'll take it and we want more. We want more," he added. 

The Owls, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion and the top seed in the field, finished as the top team in D2 despite it being their first season under Bayne. 

"I knew from day one that they were talented. I saw the film coming into it, I knew that getting in, we just had to put it together, fix that culture and get that environment right for them and this is the result. They worked hard all year, from day one," said Bayne, a former Hawaii Baptist assistant. 

Smith applauded Bayne and his ability to get his players to buy-in this season. 

"David just built this really good environment right off the bat starting in the summer when most of us were showing up just to get the extra reps in before school season started and he just it his first job to make that good environment for us, so it really helped us," Smith said. 

After toiling in Division I against the likes of powerhouses Kamehameha, Punahou and Iolani year in and year out, Mid-Pacific opted to compete in D2 this fall. It's all part of the bigger picture, Bayne explained. 

"We tried to get a positive culture, a winning culture and starting here (in Division II) is a good place to start, feel the success, you know, championships — it doesn't get any better than that — and then we build toward our future," Bayne said. 

New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Girls Volleyball State Championships All-Tournament Team

Miliana Sylvester, University Lab
Marisa Nakata, Hawaii Baptist
Mayah Nakasato, University Lab
Tai Sorenson, University Lab
Kaila Kalama-Bajet, Damien
Brooke Eglinton, Mid-Pacific
Most Outstanding Player: Payton Smith, Mid-Pacific

Smith hit .241 and took 58 swings and added eight digs. Eglinton finished with 19 kills, Nikko Stack had nine kills and 13 digs, Destiny Look chipped in with eight kills and two blocks and Charis Kai posted 20 digs, nine assists and three of her team's six aces. Setter Scanlan and Kanoelani Contreras tallied 27 assists and seven digs and 19 and five, respectively. 

"It was kind of what I expected, but I think (Kai) played really great, she dug a lot of balls, she kept it in play and they've got three hitters all the time," University coach Walt Quitan said. "It could have gone either way, we just had some rotations that sometimes it was hard for us to get out of, but we did well. I was proud that after the second and third (sets) that we kind of fought back and left it all out on the floor."

Sylvester led University Lab with 25 kills and Liliana Dutcher had 14 kills and 10 digs. Maiah Kalima-Izumi added nine kills with 16 digs, libero Tai Sorenson tallied 23 digs and setter Mayah Nakasato dished out 56 assists along with eight digs in the loss. 

It was the third meeting between the teams this season. University won the first match in five sets back on Sept. 28 and Mid-Pacific won in a sweep on Oct. 12. 

The Junior ‘Bows were seeking their second state title in three years and 10th overall. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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