Punahou volleyball No. 1 in nation
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Punahou School's storied boys volleyball program reached a new milestone this past weekend, winning the prestigious Best of the West Invitational at Poway, Calif.
The championship performance in a loaded 32-team field elevated the Buffanblu to a No. 1 national ranking in ESPN Rise's Fab 50.
"It was a great level of competition," Punahou coach Rick Tune said. "We didn't have any easy matches."
En route to the title, the defending state champion Buffanblu swept No. 34 Granite Bay (Calif.) and Torrey Pines (San Diego), and then defeated No. 32 Orange (Calif.) Lutheran to win its pool. Punahou then swept Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) and No. 31 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) before outlasting No. 3 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), 24-26, 26-24, 17-15, in the semifinals.
Mira Costa had been ranked No. 1 entering the tournament, while the Buffanblu were No. 3.
Punahou then edged No. 2 Loyola (Los Angeles), 19-25, 26-24, 15-12, for the championship.
The Buffanblu had only three practices with their full squad before entering the Best of the West, since four players were on Punahou's basketball team that finished third in the state tournament on March 6. That included Best of the West Most Valuable Player Taylor Crabb, who was recovering from an ankle injury, and all-tournament selection Henry Cassiday.
"Everybody pulled together," Tune said.
'Iolani, ranked No. 21, also played in the Best of the West and finished sixth in the Silver Bracket (22nd overall). The Raiders defeated No. 26 Palos Verdes (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) and No. 34 Granite Bay.
" 'Iolani is a classy program, and both teams represented Hawai'i very well," Tune said.
Punahou hosts No. 10-ranked Kamehameha tonight at 6:30. Hawai'i Baptist is No. 18 and Roosevelt No. 37 in the ESPN Rise Fab 50.
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