Lady Farmers top St. Anthony in volleyball home opener

Sophomore Taylor Keliihoomalu puts down a kill shot in the second set of Saturday's victory over St. Anthony. Waiting for the return, from left, are: Leenell Hernandez, Taylor Tamanaha, Shania Mollena-Lopez, Lehiwa Pedro and Natalia Levi.

Despite losing its top players from last year’s state championship team, the Molokai High School girls’ volleyball team showed this weekend that it will still be a top contender in Division II in the Maui Interscholastic League.

The lady Farmers hosted St. Anthony in the first home matches of the season on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. It was a straight set victory Friday with the crowd at The Barn pumping up the team. The final score was 25-8, 25-13, 25-23.

Senior Leenell Hernandez led the Farmers with 12 kills and 13 digs. The other senior team leader, Natalia Levi, finished with five kills and nine digs. Carol Kahee showed her hustle with 14 digs while sophomore Heather Place passed extremely well, earning 19 assists. Junior Sotrell Ingram, a newcomer to volleyball this year, had six kills while Taylor Keliihoomalu finished with four aces.

On Saturday, the Trojans pushed Molokai to four sets but were still defeated 25-13, 25-19, 14-25 and 25-14. Hernandez was again the top finisher with 19 kills while Levi had 10 kills and three aces. Sophomore Shaniah Mollena-Lopez had a real impact with 26 assists. Keliihoomalu added eight kills and three consecutive aces in the second set, while Kahee scored four aces.

“I think we came out a little sluggish, not quite the energy of Friday night with the crowd here,” said Molokai Head Coach Matt Helm. “Also we knew they were going to come out much better, it was evident they came out ready to play.”

Taylor Keliihoomalu serving one of her three straight aces in the second set against St. Anthony Saturday.

The momentum of the match shifted to St. Anthony’s advantage early in the third set. The Trojans consistency and shot placement kept the Farmers off balance.

Even in the beginning of the fourth set, St. Anthony seemed to be the stronger team. With the game tied at 10-10, Molokai took a timeout and rallied with renewed energy. The Farmers jumped out to a 16-10 lead and never looked back.

“We let down a little bit, but I also think St. Anthony is playing well,” said Helm. “They’re getting better every game. Last night it was the same thing, the third set we looked a little tight and St. Anthony got a little more comfortable.”

Helm said the team is in good shape heading into the heart of the season. “We are improving on a daily basis, we’re contending for a championship,” said Helm. He sees Seabury Hall, Hana and St. Anthony as Molokai’s top competition in the MIL.

Helm had some positive comments to make about some of his younger players.

“Coming off the bench, Shania Mollena-Lopez did a great job of setting. Our returners are always going to play well, like Leenell Hernandez and Natalia Levi, but with the addition of Shania, she played really well. Sotrell Ingram did great last night in the middle. Our other middle, Lehiwa Pedro, she’s a freshman, she did some great things last night too.”

The next home game for the lady Farmers is Oct. 7 and 8 versus Hana, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday.


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