Palmer heads the class of 2009
by Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Without classification, Hawai'i Baptist Academy senior Sarah Palmer emerged as the best girls volleyball player in Hawai'i during the 2009 season.
Palmer, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, led the Eagles to a 21-2 record in the regular season and postseason and their third straight Division II state championship. HBA's only losses came to DI opponents 'Iolani and Punahou, and the Eagles upset eventual DI state champ Kamehameha in five sets.
But whether against DI or DII foes, Palmer stood out with her tremendous all-around skills, and steady and inspiring leadership.
So on The Advertiser's 2009 All-State Girls Volleyball team — which does not distinguish between Division I and DII — Palmer was a relatively easy choice as Player of the Year.
Palmer had 18 kills in a 27-25, 23-25, 25-22 loss at 'Iolani, and a match-high 16 kills in Hawai'i Baptist's 20-25, 25-20, 26-24 victory at Kamehameha. That was sandwiched between consistently outstanding performances against Division II competition, including 14 kills in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu DII title-clinching victory over Word of Life and 19 kills in the state championship win over the Firebrands.
Palmer's contributions went far beyond kills — she also could be relied on to deliver the key block, pass, dig, serve or even set when the situation arose.
Palmer will take her all-around talents to NCAA runner-up Texas, with whom she signed a national letter of intent in November.
Palmer is joined on The Advertiser's All-State first team by Kamehameha's Taylor Akana, Talia Jardin-Fermentez and Misty Ma'a, Punahou's Juliana Behrens and Malia Patterson, 'Iolani's Mahina Haina and Kahuku's Amanda Tonga.
Akana, a 5-9 senior outside hitter, took the leadership role on a young Warriors team and was named the state tournament's Most Outstanding Player after notching 19 kills and 21 digs in the five-set title victory over Punahou, hitting for a .421 percentage with only two attack errors in 41 attempts.
Jardin-Fermentez, a steady 6-foot junior middle blocker, added 13 kills and five blocks in that match and Ma'a, an explosive 6-1 sophomore outside hitter/opposite, added 12 kills, seven digs and six blocks.
Behrens, a 6-1 senior outside hitter, and Patterson, a 5-8 senior setter, helped the Buffanblu win their first ILH championship since 2004 and enter the state title match at 21-0.
Haina, a 5-11 senior outside hitter, improved her all-around game since last season and was named ILH Division I Player of the Year.
Tonga, a 6-1 senior middle blocker, was a dominant force in leading the Red Raiders to the O'ahu Interscholastic Association championship.
Chris Blake was named Coach of the Year after guiding a youthful Kamehameha team (three seniors) to a fifth straight state title.
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadvblogs.com.