Lady Surfriders Upbeat About State Volleyball Prospects

Rae-Lynn Leong. Photo courtesy Leong family.

Rae-Lynn Leong. Photo courtesy Leong family.

Kailua High School’s Rae-Lynn Leong saved one of her biggest efforts for a critical match against cross-town rival Kalaheo in the OIA Division II championship game.

The senior outside hitter tallied a season-high 18 kills for Kailua, dazzling a statewide television audience and helping to keep her and her volleyball teammates in the mix before dropping a 26-24, 22-25, 25-20, 25-17 decision to the Mustangs.

The good news is that next week’s DII state championships offer another opportunity for Kailua to leave its mark. “It is finally here,” said Leong. “We’ve always talked about it and what it would be like to get there. It’s a fresh start. We need to be more dedicated now and stick together throughout states.”

Kailua moved quickly past its loss to Kalaheo, according to Leong. Only 23 days earlier it had dispatched Kalaheo handily in two games during the regular season meeting between the teams, but their rematch in the OIA finals was a far closer affair.

“We definitely played a great game, probably the best game we’ve ever played against Kalaheo,” said Leong. “We just have to pick each other up and keep going.”

Kailua once stood at 3-6, and had lost six in a row as of Oct. 1, although most were to Division I teams. The season turned on Oct. 6 when Kailua upset DI Castle High.

“That game boosted us up,” Leong said. “We held onto that and kept going.”

Following the win over Castle, Kailua lost to DI Kaiser in its season finale, but rebounded with wins over Waipahu and Radford in the OIA White playoffs to advance to the title game.

For her part, Leong is closing out what has been a solid career for the Surfriders. A four-year varsity player, she has been in the starting lineup in 49 straight games to date. “I’m very excited (about the state tournament), but it’s also sad that it is coming to an end. Knowing how much I’ve put into this makes me feel so much better.”

The daughter of Rider and Tia-Lynn, Leong credited her family with fueling her interest in volleyball. “I’ve been playing since I was 6 in the PAL,” she said. “It was my family that really pushed me to play sports. They knew I had it in me, and they’ve helped me throughout my volleyball life.”

Leong credited Kailua’s cohesiveness with making the difference during their late-season.

“This group is really special,” she said. “We’re very close on and off of the court, and we all pick each other up.”

Pairings for this week’s DII state championships were to be released after press time. The Surfriders’ first round game will be Wednesday at either Kaimuki or McKinley high schools. The quarterfinals and semifinals also will take place at Kaimuki and McKinley, while the DII state title game will be played Saturday at Blaisdell Arena.