ILH Boys Volleyball
Saint Louis outlasts Hawaii Baptist to notch first league win


Fri, Mar 8, 2024 @ Saint Louis [ 6:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
HBA (3-8) 25 20 25 16 9 2
STL (3-8) 21 25 15 25 15 3

Saint Louis got all it could handle from Hawaii Baptist, outlasting the Eagles in a five set marathon, 21-25, 25-20, 15-25, 25-16, 15-9.

The reigning Division II state champions, who moved up this season to Division I, earned its first win in the ILH's top tier since April 4, 2015, when the Crusaders took down Mid-Pacific, two sets to one.

The senior trio of Rex Paguirigan, TJ Setik and Carson Lee carried the load offensively for the Crusaders, with Paguirigan notching a game-high 42 assists while adding five total blocks. Setik put down 12 kills and added two blocks, while Lee had a team-high 17 kills, 11 of those coming in the final two sets.

"We lost a lot of leadership from last year, so this year me and TJ and Carson really have to kind of step it up," said Paguirigan.

"He's our only four year starter," said Saint Louis head coach Keenan Paulos of Lee. "He's watched this program go from where it was to kind of where it is now so there's a lot of pressure on him and he sometimes overthinks things. He just needs to balance being a big hitter while also using his IQ."

Another key component missing from the lineup was Pupu Sepulona, who averaged nearly 14 kills per game during the Crusaders' title run.

"No Pupu, but its always next man up," said Paulos.

It was a match of swinging momentum, with the Eagles grinding out set one, then falling behind 9-0 to the home team in the second, eventually dropping the set 25-20. A resounding win in set three for the visitors went the exact opposite in set four, which Saint Louis won going away 25-19.

The fifth set saw Saint Louis pull away at the midpoint, extending to an 8-5 margin on a Lee kill, then seeing a margin as large as four at 11-7 on an Eagles' hitting error. Presley Longfellow, who led all hitters with 25 kills, got the Eagles as close as 12-9 on his final kill of the evening, but two straight miscues by Hawaii Baptist got the home squad to match point, and Justice Cosma served up an ace that just nicked the back line to end it.

While definitely senior heavy, the Crusaders were buoyed by the play of Micah Castellano, the lone freshman on the team, who nearly logged double digit kills with nine.

"Micah is still learning but the rate he is improving is fast," Paguirigan said of the Castellano.

And when asked if Castellano is that third hitting option with Sepulona out of the lineup?

"That's what we're hoping," said Paulos. "He's very, very athletic and as a freshman there really won't be a lot of pressure on him. He just needs to play his role."

Hawaii Baptist had one other hitter reach double figures, as Joseph Giles registered 15 on the night, but the senior outside was held to just one kill over the final two sets after getting five in each of the first three. Setter Kamden Kaneshiro-Takeuchi had a match-high 46 assists and added two kills and two blocks.

Tonight's victory also snapped a 36 game skid for Saint Louis in the ILH D1 play.

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