Punahou sweeps past Hawaii Baptist
• Photo gallery: Punahou - HBA volleyball
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Flexing its muscle against yet another nationally ranked opponent, Punahou swept visiting Hawai'i Baptist, 25-15, 25-15 last night in Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys volleyball action.
The Buffanblu, ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN Rise, improved to 6-0 in ILH play while HBA, ranked No. 18, fell to 4-1.
Punahou won the prestigious Best of the West Invitational in Poway, Calif., two weekends ago — beating No. 2 Loyola (Los Angeles) and No. 3 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) along the way. The Buffanblu then came home and struggled past No. 10 Kamehameha, 25-14, 18-25, 26-24, last Thursday.
Last night, Punahou eliminated any drama early in both sets, jumping out to a 10-4 lead in Game 1 and taking an 11-6 lead in Game 2.
"When we play teams that are gonna side out, we have to be more consistent and serve tough," said Buffanblu senior outside hitter Henry Cassiday, who finished with five kills last night. "Coach (Rick) Tune said we had to stay patient."
The Eagles (4-1) never got closer than five points after the early deficit in the first game and could not get within four after trailing early in the second.
"We haven't played a team at this level all year, so this was good for us," HBA coach Teoni Obrey said. "Our coverage was poor, and we knew they'd block us because of their size. Their libero (Noah Hammond) did a good job handling our serves, we didn't get them out of system very often. And when they run their middle (attack), we had no answer for that."
Tune said last night was an improvement over last Thursday's performance.
"We're getting better," Tune said. "We're doing more of what we need to do, being more consistent. We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot, and when you do that you'll have the opportunity to score points. We're cleaning up a lot of things."
Taylor Crabb led a balanced Punahou attack with eight kills, Josh Taylor added five kills and two blocks, and Ben Lam contributed four kills and two blocks.
Ryan Leung led the Eagles with seven kills and Michael Fisher added four.
"We lost nine seniors from last year's team and half our starters are freshmen and sophomores," Obrey said. "We're still working on the chemistry part, still getting used to each other."
Obrey said he watched film of Punahou vs. Kamehameha and hoped his team could also catch the Buffanblu on an off night.
"We saw they looked a little flat (against Kamehameha) and thought they could be flat again, but Rick did a great job preparing them for tonight," Obrey said. "When they side out so quickly and so effectively like that, it's hard to make any kind of run. Our biggest chance was to gamble on the serve, but we only did that a little."
MID-PACIFIC 5, DAMIEN 0
Kurt Okita and Jordan Doi combined on a six-hitter, and Dane Fujinaka hit a two-run homer in a four-run fourth as the Owls beat the Monarchs at Mid-Pacific.
MID-PACIFIC (4-1) 000 400 1—5 7 1
DAMIEN (1-4) 000 000 0—0 6 3
Kurt Okita, Jordan Doi (7), Marcus Doi (7) and Dane Fujinaka. DJ Dudoit, Riley Perry (7) and Alan Mohika. W — Okita. L — Dudoit.
Leading hitters — Mid-Pacific: Justin Protacio 2 RBIs; M. Doi 2-3, two doubles; Fujinaka 2-run homer. Damien: Jordan Murai 2-4, double.