No. 1 Punahou turns back Kamehameha
• Photo gallery: Kamehameha vs. Punahou volleyball
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Less than a week after beating several of the best boys volleyball teams the country has to offer, Punahou got everything it could handle from a backyard rival last night before holding off Kamehameha, 25-14, 18-25, 26-24.
The Buffanblu, who are ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN Rise after winning the prestigious Best of the West Invitational last weekend in Poway, Calif., improved to 4-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, while 10th-ranked Kamehameha fell to 2-1.
Punahou coach Rick Tune said his team did not live up to its billing last night.
"That was not the prettiest match," Tune said. "We gotta get mentally tougher. When we were in front, we played well, but when we were behind, we just froze. We need to take on challenges and play to win, instead of playing not to lose. There's a big difference."
The Buffanblu were at match point after Henry Cassiday's kill through a double block on the left side made it 24-22, but the Warriors tied it after Cullen Mosher's kill down the middle and setter Carlson Aki's dump shot.
Josh Taylor then drilled a cross shot from the right side to put Punahou at match point again, which Cassiday finished with an angle kill from the opposite side. The Buffanblu had led 21-16 after breaking away from a 13-13 tie.
"Kamehameha did a great job, they popped balls up and they had a great game plan," Tune said. "We were lucky to get the win."
Punahou jumped to a 7-2 lead in the first set, and after the Warriors closed to 11-8, the Buffanblu responded with a 6-1 run and won going away. Kamehameha turned the tables in the second set, leading 11-4 and not allowing Punahou to get closer than five points.
"We just relaxed too much," said Buffanblu senior outside hitter Taylor Crabb, who finished with nine kills and one ace. "We weren't doing the little things, like calling out the serves and who would cover the seams."
Taylor led Punahou with 12 kills and two aces and Cassiday added 11 kills. Micah Christenson led the Warriors with a match-high 15 kills and three blocks.
CHRISTENSON SELECTED TO YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM AGAIN
Kamehameha's Micah Christenson is the only returning player named to the 2010 U.S. Boys' Youth National Team that will represent the U.S. at the NORCECA Under-19 Continental Championship next month in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The team that wins the Continental Championship will qualify to compete at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. The top two or three teams at NORCECA will also qualify for the 2011 FIVB Boys' Youth World Championship.
Christenson helped the U.S. take 10th last year at the FIVB Boys' Youth World Championship. He is the only Hawai'i player on the team, with six of his teammates coming from Southern California.
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadvblogs.com.