Punahou spikes 'Iolani in volleyball showdown
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
Having a No. 1 national ranking is quite an honor and burden.
Whether the Punahou boys volleyball team enjoys the recognition, well, it depends on whom you ask.
Josh Taylor had 13 kills as host Punahou beat 'Iolani, 25-21, 25-18, last night in a matchup of Interscholastic League of Honolulu unbeatens.
The Buffanblu (9-0) were ranked No. 1 in ESPN Rise's Fab 50 after winning the 32-team Best of the West Invitational at Poway, Calif., in mid-March.
Taylor, a 6-foot-7 junior, enjoys life at the top.
"We definitely like it," he said. "We like people coming at us, we want to show what we've got as a team."
His coach, Rick Tune, doesn't want to hear about the ranking.
"You know what? You just said a swear word to me," Tune said when asked of the No. 1 ranking. "We don't even talk about it. In our minds, that thing is all fluff. It's a nice recognition, but we haven't talked about it since we came back from the tournament."
'Iolani, ranked No. 13 by ESPN Rise and No. 2 in The Advertiser's Top 10 poll, competed well, but the Buffanblu always seemed to have the answer whenever the momentum started to swing the other way.
"We had a game plan and some of it worked and some of it, they're just too good to have it work," said 'Iolani coach Mike Among. "You can plan it all you want, but you have to go out there and execute it."
In the first set last night, the Buffanblu held a 16-9 advantage, but the Raiders (7-1) got within 23-20. The teams sided out on the final three points with Punahou winning it on a Raiders' hitting error.
In the second, Punahou went on a 5-0 run with Noah Hammond serving to take a 15-8 lead. 'Iolani couldn't get closer than four the rest of the way.
"We played a solid two sets tonight," Tune said. "There's still some things we want to polish up, but for the most part guys came out and competed. I want them to have fun out there and it looked like they had fun competing out there tonight."
Taylor, who hit primarily from the right side, had seven kills in the first set and six in the second. He finished with four errors.
"I played right side a little bit in the summer," Taylor said. "Tyler Kubota setting is just money. It makes it really easy to hit from the right side."
Taylor Crabb added six kills for Punahou, including five without an error in the first set. Henry Cassiday finished with five kills.
"They've got weapons all over the place and they're real steady," Among said.
The Buffanblu finished with just two aces, but Among said his team had trouble passing the serves.
"One of the big things that gets overlooked with them is they put a lot of pressure through their serve," Among said. "What people see when they watch their matches is all their big hitters at the net. But they took us out of our offense and we became very predictable, and they take advantage after that."
William Chambers had five kills without an error and two blocks for 'Iolani.