Lady Chargers Sweep Mililani, Look To Finish Season Strong

There are 11 teams in the OIA West, and 10 of them began the 2014 volleyball season with the same mindset: Beat Mililani.

You can count Pearl City girls second-year head coach Bryan Camello among them. His team’s riveting 25-22, 21-25, 15-12 road win at Mililani Sept. 11 was exactly what the program needed following a 5-6 record in 2013.

“It was something they hadn’t done here for six years, so doing that was a big thing,” said Camello, whose team took a 3-1 record into last Thursday’s late game against Kapolei. “We did have a bye the previous Tuesday, so we had a whole week to get ready.

“Walking into Mililani, we had to be mentally and physically prepared. To the kids’ credit, they did everything that we asked. We liked playing Mililani early (on the schedule), and we expected them to be the team to beat.”

Four games into the season, the Chargers could be described in a word as “workmanlike,” much to the delight of Camello.

Like a rock band without a front man, it isn’t a team of stars.

“Our win over Mililani was a total team effort — no one person stood out,” he said. “From the girls on the bench to those on the floor, they all felt a part of it.

“They said afterward that it was a ‘team win,’ and I was really proud of them for saying that.”

McKayla Apo, Tiffany Okinaga and Lexxie Enos are the only returnees to have seen substantial playing time on the volleyball courts last year, so there are a lot of fresh faces on the roster this year.

The team is just coming out of a brutal stretch of road games that saw them play Waialua and Campbell in addition to Mililani.

Next up, Pearl City will play three of its last four games, beginning with Thursday night’s match versus Leilehua. The Mules were 2-3 entering last weekend.

“They’re well-coached and they have some athletic kids, and that kind of makes them scary,” Camello said of Leilehua. “We just have to worry about doing our own jobs and take care of our side (of the net).

“Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going and keep evolving,” he added. “We have to work every day. We’re more together this year, but everyone has to get it. We’re on the right path to get there.”

With its 3-1 start, Pearl City is in the mix for a first-round bye at the OIA Division I post-season tournament. The top two teams earn byes.

On the heels of Thursday’s match with Leilehua, the Chargers have three matches remaining: against Waianae (away Sept. 30), Nanakuli (at home Oct. 2) and Radford (at home Oct. 7).