PUKALANI -The Seabury Hall girls volleyball team likes to find the middle ground in its matches.
Once the Spartans do that, it's a tall order for any team to overcome.
Regal Deen-Jackson had 18 kills and Kiki Leuteneker added 11 as Seabury Hall defeated scrappy Hana 25-18, 25-27, 25-20, 25-22 in the final of the Maui Interscholastic League Division II tournament Friday at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym on the Kamehameha Maui campus to claim a second consecutive overall league title.
Sophie Janssen of Seabury Hall sets a ball during the Spartans’ 25-18, 25-27, 25-20, 25-22 win over Hana on Friday, which secured the MIL Division II title.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Deen-Jackson, a 6-foot-2 senior, and Leuteneker, a 6-1 sophomore, are both middle blockers.
"Our middles are very accurate and disciplined when it comes to putting the balls in certain spots," said Spartans coach Scottie Zucco. "They were methodical and surgical in where they put the ball."
Seabury (12-1), which beat Hana (10-3) on Monday in a playoff for the regular-season championship, will be one of four seeded teams and receive a first-round bye in the state D-II tournament, which starts Tuesday on Oahu.
"Anytime you take the MIL championship, it's something to cherish and enjoy, but much like chewing gum, you got to put it in your mouth, chew it, enjoy the flavor and spit it out," Zucco said. "Come tomorrow, come next day of practice, we'll be ready to work."
Hana also had already qualified for state tournament.
On Friday, the Dragons got a great performance from sophomore Pakalana Helekahi-Cass, who had 23 kills.
"She had her best match of the season. For sure, for sure," said Hana coach Louis Hoopai.
Seabury sophomore Gabrielle Ratte repeatedly set the middle whenever she received a good pass.
"Kiki and Regal, I connect really well with them," Ratte said after her team won its 10th straight match.
Lena Fox, a sophomore libero who finished with 51 digs, was also a key, according to Zucco.
"It's a function of really good first balls, really good passing, really good digs," Zucco said. She's a center fielder on our team. She goes and gets the ball, does a great job at it. I'm sure the middles will thank her."
Fox and Emma Pilotin each had three aces.
Leuteneker had four blocks and Deen-Jackson added three for the Spartans, who have four players 6-1 or taller.
"We know we have a height advantage," Deen-Jackson said. "We try to use that to our advantage and we try to play our ball."
The first set was close until Seabury went on a 7-0 run, with Ratte serving, to take a 14-8 lead. Ratte, a left-hander, had an ace during the surge and a majority of her other serves were popped straight up. Deen-Jackson had four of her five first-set kills during the run. The Spartans' largest lead of the set was 22-13.
"Gabby is a great server," Zucco said. "She's really accurate, not a lot of power. She's able to put the ball where she wants."
The Dragons served for the second set after Helekahi-Cass' kill gave them a 24-23 advantage. Seabury, however, got kills by Deen-Jackson and Amy Ozee before Hana scored the final three points of the set on kills by Helekahi-Cass and Rachel Lee Scott and a Seabury hitting error. Helekahi-Cass had eight kills in the set.
"All heart; little dynamites," Hoopai said of his team.
In the third, Seabury Hall scored four points in a row to take its largest lead of the set at 16-9. Hana got as close as three on three occasions after that. Deen-Jackson and Ozee each had four kills in the set.
The Spartans led 23-22 in the fourth before Regal-Deen ended it with consecutive kills.
Shalen-Brae Hoopai had eight kills for Hana, and Scott added seven.
The Dragons handed the Spartans their only MIL loss of the year, a five-setter in September. Seabury Hall won three of four matches against Hana this season.
* Kyle Sakamoto is at email@example.com