The Buchanan girls volleyball team got some sun, had some fun, and almost won a most prestigious tournament in Hawaii in the process.
The Bears went 7-1 to start off the 2018 season before reaching the title game of the 16-team Ann Kang Invitational in Honolulu where they lost to host school ‘Iolani 25-17, 25-17.
“It was a really great tournament and it was nice to establish a high standard of play for early season,” Buchanan coach Chantal White said. “It gave us a realistic view of what we need to work on and when we get back into the gym we need to chop away at those things.”
The tournament featured six teams from Hawaii and 10 from the mainland, including SoCal powers Harvard-Westlake, Sierra Canyon and Edison.
In fact, Buchanan rebounded nicely after a Day 1 loss to ‘Iolani 27-25, 22-25, 12-15 and beat Harvard-Westlake 25-21, 25-22 in the semi-final in the three-day tournament.
Leading the Bears all tournament long was outside hitter, and UC Riverside verbal commit Ashley Dittman who registered 80 kills with an outstanding hitting percentage of .296.
Senior setter and Fresno State commit Mikayla Weiss (222 total assists) and Lexi Pagani (64 kills) were named to the all-tournament team.
Buchanan had trouble defending ‘Iolani’s Elena Oglivie, a 5-foot-10 junior hitter committed to Stanford.
“We tried different tactics against her both times, but she’s smart and highly skilled,” White said. “She adjusted to every defensive game plan we tried.”
White, who graduated from Buchanan in 2005 (last name Paschetta), also praised the defensive play of Jada McKenzie and Julia Pagani: “Both did a great job of keeping us alive.”
And while the Bears, who went 35-8 last year and placed second in the D-I Central Section, had a good showing in an excellent tournament, they realize it’s a long season.
“It was nice to come together this early this season … we needed to bond and come together,” White said. “They just really got into a groove and figured out a way to make team better rather than themselves.”
“It left us a little thirsty, we weren’t quite satisfied with losing the championship game in two [games]. I think we haven’t reached our potential but the best is yet to come.”
Buchanan’s next tournament is the Clovis Challenge Aug. 31-Sept.1, and the first league game is scheduled for Sept. 18 at Clovis.