Spartans capture 5th straight MIL crown | News, Sports, Jobs

The Seabury Hall players celebrate a third set point against Maui Prep on Thursday night. The Spartans defeated Lanai in straight sets Friday night to win their fifth straight MIL championship. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER Photos

NAPILI — The Seabury Hall girls’ volleyball team brought energy to the court on Friday night.

In front of their roaring fans at the Bozich Center on the Maui Prep campus, the Spartans shot by Lanai 25-9, 25-11, 25-13 in the Maui Interscholastic League Division II tournament finals to take home the championship.

That makes 10 titles in the last 11 seasons for Seabury – the school has won the last five straight MIL championships.

“It feels great and I’m very, very proud of my girls. We’ve come a long way and it just feels great.” said senior outside hitter Kekua Richards, who led the Spartans (14-0) with 12 kills and six aces. “I wouldn’t choose any other team.”

Seabury senior Caelyn Hasegawa had 25 assists, six digs and three blocks. Makalani Carey added seven kills and four aces, Caroline Belew added three kills, three aces and four blocks, and Sofia Connor had five kills. Harmony Powers made 16 digs.

Seabury Hall’s Kekua Richards celebrates a point against Maui Prep Thursday night.

“It feels incredible. We got a taste of victory last year and since then the returning juniors and seniors have been hungry for it.” Hasegawa said after taking celebratory photos with her teammates. “And just being back in the gym has been great for everyone. Everyone has worked so incredibly hard and I just have so much respect for this team.”

Spartans coach Brian Connor said his players put in a lot of hard work “Day by Day, Hour by Hour” to earn the crown.

“When we started the season, our goal was to win this and go to the States,” said Connor. “We’ve always had that focus, we’ve always had that determination to work hard, so for us this is a step in that process.”

MIL runner-up Lanai (10-4) defeated Hana in four sets the night before in the semifinals to secure second place in the state tournament – the Pine Lasses will make their first state appearance since 1999.

The feeling of being back in the tournament remains surreal, said Pine Lasses coach Ross Morita.

Lanai players celebrate a point in their semi-final win over Hana on Thursday night.

“From our beginning to now, I’m super happy with how it all ended.” said Morita. “Seabury is always big and tough. They’re a solid team every year so it’s really difficult to get to that mountain top.”

The main concern now going into the Oahu state tournament is finding housing, he said, while the team raises funds to pay for housing.

“But as far as our approach goes, it’s not about being happy and content that we’re just there, it’s about competing and hopefully getting ahead in a game or two and seeing how it goes.” he said.

On Friday evening in Napili, the Spartans showed themselves strong and took a 22:9 lead in the first set. Richards and Belew pulled off a kill before Richards came back and jabbed the ball to end the set quickly.

In the second frame, the Spartans were leading 6-3 before starting a big 12-0 run that included five aces from Richards, two kills and a block from Christina Naish, and a kill from Makalani Carey.

Richards said she didn’t expect to hit the ground behind the service line so many times during that run.

“Yeah, that was crazy” She said.

A few misses at serve from both teams and an ace from Lanai senior Jayah Vila and a kill from Souina Seiuli put the Pine Lasses up 19-7.

Kills from Seiuli and Haley Ostrander and an ace from Kawehi Fernandez-Lastimosa helped Lanai stay 21-10, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap before a couple of misses and a dink from Richards ended the set.

A Hasegawa kill spurred a 7-0 run from Seabury to start the final set, which also included four aces from Carey. The Spartans later went on a 6-0 run to open a 23-11 lead and the match ended with a big block from senior Hannah Drood.

Lanai didn’t record any stats as of Friday night.

Looking ahead, Connor said his team is aware of that “Quality Teams” lined up for next week’s D-II state tournament, the bracket of which was released by the HHSAA late Friday night.

Lanai plays Hawaii Prep in Kalani on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. in a first-round match – the winner advances to a quarter-final against La Jardin. Seabury is seeded No. 3 and will face either Damien or Ka’u in the quarterfinals at 5pm on Wednesday in Saint Louis.

“Oahu teams always bring it. Last year we lost in the first round to a great team, Le Jardin.” said Connor. “Oahu teams are just playing a faster, faster, well-executed game that we need to prepare for, so extra practice on Sunday and then Monday, Tuesday and then Wednesday on the flight.”

Captains Hasegawa and Richards both said the Spartans have been working toward states since preseason.

“Everyone is excited to be there and we’re ready to play the best teams in Hawaii,” said Hasegawa.

“The captains this year were great leaders, good role models, leading by example and pushing hard day in and day out.” said Connor. “I know the whole team wants it, but these two especially.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected]

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