Orlando, Florida
– The Pilipa’a Girls’ 15’s team bounced back from a rough start yesterday to advance to the winners bracket of the 43rd Annual AAU National Championship tournament.

Pilipa’a started round two of pool play with a very tough match up against 23rd seed Kandi Elite 15-1.  Pilipa’a started strong against the big team from Willmar, Minnesota but was unable to hold the lead and lost 2-0 (25-27, 17-25). Despite the loss, it was some of the best volleyball that Pilipa’a had played in their first four matches. Pilipa’a was led by Nani Spaar with 7 kills and Laurie McGrath with 5.

Pilipa’a’s second match of the day is where they turned things around. Pilipa’a faced Wisconsin Volleyball Academy, another tall team from the Midwest.  It was a tough back and forth match, but Pilipa’a claimed the match 2-1 ( 21-25, 25-21, 15-11).  Team passing improved significantly which lead to improved attacking including  outstanding performances by Tiani Bello with 18 kills, Nani Spaar with 7, and Aulike Kaiawe with 5.  Serving also improved with Samara Toomata adding a long service run which included 4 services aces.

Pilipa’a carried the momentum from the second match in to their third and final match of the day and swept A5 15-2 of Atlanta, Georgia 25-7, 25-18.  All of Pilipa’a’s hitters hit for high percentages and the team hit .439 for the match.  Tiani Bello led the way with 10 kills, followed by Aulike Kaiawe with 8, Nani Spaar with 6,   Laurie McGrath with 5 and Mahala Ka’apuni with 3.  McGrath, Ka’apuni and Spaar did an excellent job at the net and liberos Samara Toomata and Mia Takai had solid matches in the back row.

Pilipa’a 15-1,  which started the tournament as the 89th seed in the field of 173 teams,  has moved up to 44th and has an opportunity to move up in the rankings again tomorrow. They start at 8am (EST) and will play a minimum of 3 matches tomorrow.

The Pilipa’a 16’s arrived in Florida this evening and will begin play in the Girls 16’s division on Thursday and we’ll have more updates on them soon.  Go Pilipa’a!