Mililani girls volleyball team secures OIA title in win over Kahuku
Kahuku’s Skyy Botelho went to the floor to come up with a dig against Mililani. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
A five-year wait is over for the Mililani girls volleyball team. The fourth-ranked Trojans secured the OIA Division I championship Wednesday night with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-14 victory over No. 7 Kahuku at the McKinley gym.
It was rough going at first for Mililani (13-0), which rallied back from a 15-5 deficit in the first set with a 20-3 run.
“We had butterflies in the beginning and we just had to get it out,” Trojans outside hitter Falanika Danielson said. “After that, we just started building up. I think we were nervous, honestly.
“This means everything. We have a very great support system. We have our football team and our cheerleaders here and we’re all supporting each other and it means a lot.”
It’s the third title in the last eight years for Mililani, which also won in 2011 and 2013 under coach Val Crabbe. Kahuku (12-2) failed in its bid for a 13th OIA championship. Both teams will play in next week’s D-I state tournament, and the Trojans will be seeded.
“We didn’t play as a team,” Red Raiders middle Mary Fonoimoana said. “We need to play more as a team. Going for the title kind of scared us. We need to come back for states and come back stronger. No one really wanted it enough with their hearts and mentally. We’ve just gotta come back with our game.”
Danielson led the Trojans with 17 kills and 11 digs. Aysia Miller contributed 29 assists and Aria Miller had nine kills and nine digs.
“It was pretty shaky at first,” said Mililani’s Gabby Naniseni, who had five kills and three blocks. “But I know I can trust my team. I knew we could fight back. We’ve done it before and I’m glad we did it again tonight. We really wanted this. Everyone really put in the work this year and it just really means so much to bring home an OIA title for our school and everyone.”
For the Red Raiders, Fonoimoana led the way with five kills. Keau Kamakeeaina had four aces, 10 assists and nine digs.
After that huge Mililani comeback in the first set, everything seemed to go the Trojans’ way.
“We definitely had flaws, but the biggest part was none of us gave up on it and everyone was really resilient tonight and we really pushed,” Naniseni said. “We just went down to the basics and we brought it back to passing, setting and hitting.”
The Trojans had big leads throughout the final two sets. At 23-17 in the second, Danielson — on sets from Aysia Miller — drilled two kills to end it. In the third at 23-14, Aria Miller’s kill on a set from Mahealani Chun got it to match point, and the Trojans celebrated the title when Kahuku’s Savannah Taosoga hit long.