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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 23, 2010

Punahou still perfect in ILH volleyball

By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Punahou's Brandon Pitzer rises above the court and Kamehameha's Kalei Kaaiai to dump the ball over the net. Punahou prevailed, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22.

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The Punahou boys volleyball team hammered away against Kamehameha and got something it wasn't expecting: the ball coming back over the net.

But in the end, the Buffanblu, ranked No. 1 in the ESPN RISE Fab 50, pulled out a 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22 victory last night in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu match.

Henry Cassiday had 18 kills, Taylor Crabb added 16 and Josh Taylor 12 for Punahou (15-0).

But the Buffanblu trio had to work for them.

"I can't even begin to say how frustrating it is to get one of your hardest hits and see it come back over and having to come back, reset and do it again," said Cassiday, a 6-foot-2 senior.

Punahou coach Rick Tune wanted better execution from his team when the ball was returned.

"(The Warriors) popped up a lot of balls and right now we're not ready to play the second and third ball," he said. "We need to get back in the gym and work on that."

Kamehameha coach Guy Kaniho said his team needs to be scrappy.

"Basically, we pride ourselves on defense," he said. "In the ILH, my team is one of the shorter teams. We have to rely on relentless defense."

In the first set, Punahou jumped to a 9-1 lead before Kamehameha, ranked No. 10 in the ESPN RISE Fab 50 and No. 3 in The Advertiser's Top 10 poll, rallied to get within 14-11. The Buffanblu then pulled away.

"That was a pleasant surprise," Tune said. "It's always nice when you get off to a good start like that. But we have to work on sustaining that effort and realize the whole match isn't going to progress like that."

In the second set, Kamehameha (11-3) scored three in a row to tie it at 20. The match was tied three more times before a Buffanblu hitting error and kill by Micah Christenson ended it.

"The second set, we really cut down on our errors," Kaniho said. "In the first set we had like 16 errors and in the second set we cut that in half."

For one of the rare times this season, the Buffanblu got frustrated.

"We got down on ourselves (in the second set)," Cassiday said. "We got frustrated, but we were able to pull together."

The pivotal third set was tied at 18, 20, 22, 23 and 24.

Punahou actually celebrated winning the set twice.

The Buffanblu got to set point at 24-23, and Kamehameha's Kalei Kaaiai hit a cross-court shot from the right side that was originally ruled out, setting off a Punahou celebration. But the line judge said there was a touch by the Buffanblu block, the officials huddled and a touch was called.

The Buffanblu made the episode moot by scoring the final two points on a kill by Crabb and a Warriors' hitting error.

Crabb, a 6-1 senior, had six kills without an error in the third.

In the fourth set, Punahou held a commanding 23-16 advantage before the Warriors made one last run. They got as close as 24-22, but Cassiday's kill ended it.

"To get a win here. It's hard, it's tough," Crabb said.

In the end, Punahou, as usual, just had too many weapons.

"They can go to the middle, to the outside, they have the back-row attack," Kaniho said. "They have a well-distributed offensive side-out team."

Christenson and Jaylen Reyes each had eight kills for Kamehameha.