WAIMEA — Coach Kaimi Kaupiko of the 12 Under Milolii-Kau volleyball team said the girls are a lot smaller so they have to rely on defense and passing.
The Milolii-Kau team, comprised of players from both Milolii and Kau on the Big Island, is just one of 10 teams participating in the 12 Under division at the 29th Annual Ho‘oikaika volleyball tournament which opened Friday afternoon and continues through championship play on Monday afternoon.
“Ho‘oikaika Volleyball Club is hosting 31 teams in three age groups, the 10 Under, the 12 Under, and 14 Under,” said Coach Peter Kruse, the Ho‘oikaika coach and tournament director. “Teams play at the Clem Gomes Gym on the Waimea High School campus and the Waimea Ed Center courts.”
He said besides Kauai-based teams, the tournament features teams from Hilo on the Big Island, Molokai, and Oahu participating.
During the opening game in the 12 Under, Pool B, the Hawaiian Time 12U with Coach Tarann Bajet controlled its opening set against Milolii-Kau, 25-12.
The momentum switched, and following several deadlocks, Milolii-Kau finished with wins of 25-21, and 15-13 behind the serving of Hailey Kahele-Fa‘afia and Kaelyn Medeiros-Shibuya who forced errors by the Hawaiian Time defense.
“We tried something new in the first set,” said Milolii-Kau Coach Yolanda Kuahuia. “We went to a two setter lineup, and it didn’t work. We adjusted our lineup and went back to a single setter — Shaila Kahele-Fa‘afia.”
Tarann said normally his team from Ewa Beach on Oahu has a bigger roster, but was limited to just six players who traveled to Kauai for the tournament.
“This is the first time for us at this tournament,” Tarann said. “Our girls are all 11’s. We have no 12 year olds, and this is our first season as a club even if the girls have been playing together from the Parks and Recreation league and moving up to the Police Activities League. They’ve been playing together since they were 6 years old.”
Coach Daniel Aina who was working with Coach Tene Kaupu of the Keaukaha Cuzins said the 12 Under Milolii-Kau team was also the first time playing on Kauai.
“If we have the young players, we try to come to this tournament,” Aina said. “We missed a couple of years because as the players grow older, we take them to the mainland tournaments.”
The Cuzins, playing in Pool C, opened its appearance with a 25-16, 25-10 showing over the host Ho‘oikaika 10 Under team, and finished the opening day with a 6-0 record.
Milolii-Kau finished the opening day with a 4-1 record in Pool B while Hawaiian Time west (12U) followed with a 3-2 record.
Kruse said the 14 Under division took the floor Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. with the 10 Under and 12 Under closing off the day.
Championship play for all divisions take place Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.