IPA Girls Volleyball Team Proves To Be A Fighting Force

On paper, Island Pacific Academy’s girls volleyball team looked a year away from being a contender again in ILH Division III.

And head coach Stan Vincent was among those who foresaw the Navigators being in rebuilding mode. That mindset quickly changed, however, when IPA began its ILH slate.

The team entered last Thursday’s season finale with Lanakila Baptist still undefeated (11-0) and clinching the ILH DIII title. The Navigators also qualified for the DII conference tournament’s “play-in” game against Hanalani, which was to take place last Saturday. The winner of that game advances to a second round matchup versus DII’s top seed, Hawaii Baptist Academy.

“When we started, we weren’t looking at going very far,” admitted Vincent, who coached IPA to the DIII title in 2012 as well as a second-place finish last fall. “We’d lost half of our team for various reasons, and I had to bring up a bunch of kids from the (2013) JV team just to have a varsity team. We brought up five sophomores, and they jelled particularly well with the juniors and seniors we did have.

“Our chemistry was very positive on the court,” he added. “They played well throughout the season.”

Six of IPA’s wins were decided in two games, with only five matches going the full three games.

“We’ve been a strong serving team, and that has served us well, so to speak,” he continued. “We keep the pressure on, and we’ve scored more points that way than anyone else.”

IPA’s roster included seniors Kaelyn Estenson, Celina Li and Vicki Nishii, junior JC Hitzeman, and sophomores Taylor Kodani, Kalena Spotkaeff, Shania Duran, Katie Gordon and Caitlin Komatsu.

The Navigators’ success this season is all the more noteworthy in that IPA doesn’t yet have a gym of its own. The team usually practices at a park in Ewa Beach.

“All of our practices are outdoors, so we have the wind and the rain (to deal with),” Vincent explained.

Plans have been drawn up for a gym at IPA, but construction has yet to begin. The Navigators’ volleyball program, meanwhile, is well on its way to establishing itself as a power in ILH Division III.

IPA’s Intermediate Team also went undefeated during the 2014 season at 12-0 this fall.

“Success breeds success,” said Vincent. “Now that we’ve had some success (at the varsity level), we’re developing our feeder programs.”