Waiākea, Pearl City roll into quarterfinal round Kamehameha, 'Iolani sweep through foes
• Photo gallery: State prep volleyball
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
Waiākea nearly lost itself in Monday's state volleyball tournament play-in game, but managed to pull out a win for a tournament berth.
"It was just a down game, we wasn't feeling the tempo of the game," said Waiākea outside hitter Clayton Morante Jr.
The Warriors recovered from Monday's episode of mediocrity, and Morante was unstoppable in yesterday's 25-16, 25-18, 25-15 win over Kalani in the first round of the New City Nissan Division I Boys Volleyball State Championships at McKinley's Student Council Gym.
"We knew this was a big game for us, we had to step up," said Morante, who had 18 kills. "I feel very comfortable in this gym, it feels like home."
Waiākea (15-3) meets fourth-seeded Baldwin (11-1) in today's 5 p.m. quarterfinal at McKinley.
Angelo Berardy had seven kills and Chase Suzumoto six for Kalani (13-5), the O'ahu Interscholastic Association runner-up.
The Warriors lost a five-set battle to Kamehameha-Hawai'i in Saturday's Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship, then had to beat McKinley, the OIA's sixth-place team, for a state berth.
"We weren't Waiākea basically," Morante said. "We struggled through the whole game."
Against Kalani, Set 1 was tight in the beginning before the Warriors closed it out with a 10-3 run, helped in part by four straight Kalani errors.
Waiākea setter Kyle Hanagami was able to spread the ball the entire match, getting his hitters open for one-on-one attempts. Outside hitter Evan La Rochelle finished with eight kills, as did 6-foot-6 opposite Aaron Aweau.
"They had good ball control, they could pass really well, they could hit," said Kalani coach Kawika Marasco. "They're a pretty complete team."
The Warriors focused on defense after Monday's three-set win, recovering in time for states.
"We were lazy on defense," Hanagami said. "We had to play better defense, be in the right spots at the right time."
CHARGERS SWEEP SEARIDERS
This time, Pearl City's attention was on the team across the net.
Pearl City looked past Wai'anae in their last meeting and ended up losing to the Seariders. In last night's first round, Pearl City focused on Wai'anae and ran away with a 25-20, 25-9, 25-14 win at McKinley.
"We weren't ready for them," Pearl City's Bradley Rodrigues said of the teams' last meeting in the OIA playoffs. "We were too busy thinking about bigger teams, but we didn't focus on Wai'anae to get past them."
The Chargers' undersized hitters swung away. Rodrigues and fellow outside hitter Richard Robb are about 5 feet 7, and middle hitter/setter Dominique Johnson is 5-10. Johnson had seven kills and 14 assists.
"We woke up, we played together, played with our hearts out," said Rodrigues, who had 13 kills. "Our hitting was working really well. Usually our passing breaks down, but our passing worked good today."
Pearl City (14-3) plays defending champion and No. 1 Punahou (20-0) at 7 p.m. today at McKinley.
Johnovan Tyrell had seven kills for Wai'anae (10-9).