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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 15, 2006

Moanalua girls rally past Kahuku to go 5-0 in OIA

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Even a reinforced Kahuku High School girls volleyball team did not have enough to take a game from Moanalua last night, as Na Menehune rallied past the visiting Red Raiders, 25-19, 25-23.

Moanalua, which improved to 5-0 in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association, has won all of its league matches in straight games. Two-time defending OIA champion Kahuku fell to 3-2.

As happened in a sweep of Roosevelt two weeks ago, Moanalua was two points away from losing Game 2 last night. But Na Menehune again did not panic and scored five unanswered points to take the match.

"We just relaxed and got the points with teamwork," said junior right side hitter Kaleinani Kabalis, who had a match-high 11 kills. "We don't want to get too intense."

That formula has worked so far for Moanalua, which overcame six-point deficits in each of the games against Roosevelt. Last night, Na Menehune trailed 20-16 in the second game before closing it to 20-19 after three Kahuku errors.

The Red Raiders pushed the lead to 23-20 on a kill by Nile Te'o, but Melanie Manutai's kill and two more Kahuku errors tied it. Moanalua then went up 24-23 on a kill by Sarah Robinson and ended it on Kabalis' ace that landed just inside the end line.

"Nothing bothers them, they just play," Red Raiders coach Mona Ah-Hoy said of Na Menehune. "With girls like Bri (Amian) and Kalei, they have a lot of poise. That's what we need."

Kahuku had hoped to get a boost with the return of starters Leilani Tafuna and Alayna Galea'i, who were sidelined early in the season with injuries. But Ah-Hoy said Tafuna (back spasms) is only about 80 percent healed, and Galea'i will have to play with a torn meniscus the rest of the season.

Ah-Hoy also is concerned about the Red Raiders' mental approach, especially in the late stages of games. Kahuku stayed almost even with Moanalua through most of the first game, only to lose six of the final seven points.

"We were not sure on a lot of balls and let them drop," Ah-Hoy said. "I told our girls they need to come in here confident."

Na Menehune's confidence is reflected in their laid-back demeanor even in crucial moments. But coach Tommy Lake said the relaxed state does not mean his girls don't care about winning.

"We have good competitors in this group, and sometimes they want it too much and try too hard," Lake said. "When they're patient, then they're OK. That's the better way for us; that's the personality of this team."

Amian, a fourth-year letterman, added nine kills.

Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com.