PUHI — Island School debuted its first official girls varsity volleyball team earlier this month and 15-year-old sophomore Michaela Sullivan was all too happy to be a part of that history.
She recorded the first kill for Island School when she took a set from Madison Duarte.
Sullivan has been playing years of club ball with Po‘okela and Pu‘uwai and feels very fortunate to now be able to represent the school she’s attended since kindergarten in her favorite sport.
The ever-growing private school, Island School, is in the process of expanding its athletic program — it currently has nine varsity sports and will offer soccer and basketball in exhibition.
Sullivan was a member of the original volleyball team that formed last year when it was competing in exhibition, but now it’s an official varsity team that, along with Kaua‘i, Kapa‘a and Waimea high schools, will compete for the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation championship.
“We’re making history here being the first varsity team at Island School,” Sullivan said. “It was nerve-racking at first, but I just know that in a few years from now, I’ll come back here and we’re going to be at the top of the KIF and I will be able to say ‘I was a part of that. I started that.’”
Four games into the season, Sullivan said things started off a bit slowly for the team, but that she thinks the team is getting the hang of it.
The Voyagers were at a slight disadvantage as the season started. Its public school counterparts had nearly a month’s worth of practice and preseason tournaments more than Island School did as they started school session earlier and were able to form teams.
Island School’s girls weren’t able to play whole, as a team, until the very first game. Coordinating schedules and practices made it hard for everyone to be at the same place for practice at the same time.
But Sullivan and the girls aren’t making any excuses and seemed to have picked up the play and are holding their own in the league, progressively getting better with each game.
“In the beginning it was kind of slow. We had started practicing two weeks before,” Sullivan said. “I thought we did pretty good (to start). I think we’ve improved since the first game and that’s made us come together. Knowing what people are capable of doing helps us better ourselves.”
Sullivan is capable of facilitating the court. As the setter, she is the leader on the court and dictator of the offense. She’s averaging nearly five assists a game/set so far.
It’s her first time in the position — Sullivan is a veteran outside hitter in club play — and she eased into it well.
“I just got put into that position,” she said. “It was mental. Once I got it into my head that I would be setting, I just had to deal with it and I did my job. I just went into it with a clear head.”
Island School’s coach Jen Pomroy explained that Sullivan is an asset to the team, not only because of her good attitude, but also because she has the most experience on the team.
“This is her sport. If anything, volleyball is her sport,” Pomroy said. “If her team is scrambling, she will be there to bail them out.”
She also shares co-captain duties with senior Nalikka Ringler.
In a way, Sullivan felt that being switched to setter was a good thing.
“It’s different from hitting,” she said. “But it’s a good kind of different.”
Having sprained her ankle five times already this year, Sullivan lost her vertical jump — a must-have for an outside hitter. Now being a setter, she has a chance to showcase her playing abilities and try to earn a college scholarship.
“What really got me to transition from hitting to setting was aiming for a scholarship,” she said. “I didn’t think I could get to be a hitter at the college level and with being a setter, now I can try that. Being able to play at a good college was motivation. I want to be able to have that starting position and I know I have to fight for that.”
Her goal for this season is to win a full-blown match.
Three games. The whole thing. I want to win one,” she said.
She and her fellow Voyagers have plenty of time to do so. Round 1 of KIF play ends Saturday (unless a playoff is needed) and the second round starts next week.
“I think we can do it. We have a lot of potential,” Sullivan said.
Parents: Lisa and Patrick Sullivan
Favorite volleyball player: Tara Hittle (University of Hawai‘i)
Other extra-curricular activities: Mock Trial