Players’ Graduation Forces Change In Mules’ VB Strategy

One tournament hardly makes a season, but Leilehua’s girls volleyball head coach Larry Cantero nevertheless came away buoyed by the Mules’ recent public unveiling.

The team is in regroup mode after losing key players from last year, when it went 7-3 in the OIA West en route to a state tournament berth.

“I was really proud of the way they played,” Cantero said of Leilehua’s performance over three days at the McKinley Pre-Season Tournament. “I was impressed with our tenacity and just playing volleyball. Getting the girls to keep the intensity and energy high is something we always talk about so we don’t lose momentum. We try to prevent those mood swings.”

A pair of high-profile starters from last year were Kayla Kilaulani, who now plays for Hawaii Pacific University, and Alexis Fetui, whose family relocated to the Mainland. Both were outside hitters in 2013 for the Wahiawa school.

“Everybody will have to play a key role on this team,” Cantero said. “People have to step up. We lost some key people, so we needed to rebuild and get the mentality different. We also lost a lot of height. Our strength is going to have to be our ball-handling and our ability to get the ball up (to hitters) to get it over.

“Last year, it came down to our defense as well as consistency. (We hope to have) a very scrappy defense. We have a lot of athletic kids. It comes down to trying to instill that (defensive mindset) in them and getting them to go for every ball before it hits the ground. One key thing that will help us is if we can communicate on the court. At times it has been good, although I have to keep reminding them.”

The 2014 roster includes Precious Bagayas-Enos, Tiana Cantero-Kawelo, Saramasina Docktor, Kanoe Kamikawa, Kuulei

Kamikawa, Kana Kilaulani, Elisha Levasa, Ember-Punaahele Manaea, Brittany Pasoquen, Jordan Tolentino, Jayde Vellalos and manager Nora Fenton.

Leilehua hosted its own tournament last weekend, which brought Nanakuli and ILH teams Le Jardin and Sacred Hearts to campus. The Mules are set to open their regular season Sept. 2 at home versus Radford. The Rams are coming off of an 8-9 season (4-6 in OIA West).