Lady Falcons In OIA Playoffs

While Kalani head volleyball coach Janeen Waialae was to learn of her team’s first-round playoff opponent over the weekend, the emphasis is all on the Falcons as they look ahead to the post-season.

“It’s definitely more about what we have control of,” said Waialae, who led Kalani to a 7-3 regular-season record in the OIA’s Red East Conference. “Even if we play the top seed, we have to take care of what we do. We’ve been moving forward (day-to-day), and that’s the main thing.”

The Falcons, who will be paired up against a team from the West next week when the OIA playoffs begin, must finish in the tourney’s top six to a berth state tournament.

East teams have dominated the OIA traditionally, having produced the overall Division I league champion six of the last seven years, so the Falcons figure to be in the mix for a state tournament berth. Kalani’s only losses this season came to fellow East powers Castle, Kahuku and Moanalua.

Among the matches the Falcons have won in 2012, all but one came via two- game sweeps with only Farrington extending Kalani to a third game.

Waialae will use this week to “fine-tune,” as the Falcons have a break from action before next week’s first-round matches. The OIA’s season is set up more like a sprint than a marathon, leaving limited practice time once teams come out of fall camp and begin league play.

“We’re happy to have a break (from matches this week),” she said. “Instead of having one practice and then a game the next day, we can break it up and start out with ‘position practice’ before our (team-oriented) practice. Usually, we have to focus a lot on the ‘team drills.’”

Kalani has benefitted in a big way from the senior leadership of veterans Kaiana Ieae, Puamana Danielson and Megan Kawano to date.

“They’re all doing well,” she said. “Pua and Kai are still plugging away, and Megan has definitely stepped up as a leader. She’s a leader off of the court, and her discipline shows up on the court.”

Defense has been the team’s forte on the court so far, which bodes well, given that the competition level will increase in coming days. Unlike during the regular season when Kalani also faced Division II teams, the OIA Red Tournament will feature only Division Iteams.

“Our defense and our serve-receive have been our strengths. When those are on, our team can execute a lot of things.”

Waialae also cited team unity one of the Falcons’ strengths.

“They all get along,” she said. “They get along off of the court, and that helps our chemistry and transfers onto the court. Our scrappiness has been big — their ability to go for balls that others might give up on. They’ve gelling as a team.

“We’ve been working out with different lineups and working on different plays,” Waialae added. “We’re definitely still moving forward as we go into the playoffs.”