ILH foes in title match Seabury Hall, Pāhoa reach DII final
• Photo gallery: Punahou vs. Waiakea volleyball
Tough competition during league play and earlier in the week has Punahou ready for another state volleyball title.
The Buffanblu (22-0), who won the highly competitive Interscholastic League of Honolulu, scrimmaged against their alumni earlier this week. Last night, they showed the culmination of a season's worth of intense play in a 25-9, 25-19, 25-16 victory over Waiākea (16-4) in the semifinals of the New City Nissan Boys State Volleyball Championships at McKinley.
Punahou plays ILH foe Kamehameha in tonight's championship match at McKinley at 7. Kamehameha beat 'Iolani, another ILH team, in four sets yesterday at Kaimukī.
"We had a good solid week of practice," said Punahou's Henry Cassiday, who finished with 17 kills. "We got to scrimmage with some really great alumni who came in. I really feel like these past two matches, we've been building on what we've been practicing and we're getting better each day."
Josh Taylor, back from an injury, played only in Set 3 and finished with six kills. Taylor Crabb, Austin Ako and Benjamin Lam each finished with six kills in the win.
Punahou's tough serves and hard hitting got Waiākea out of system, preventing the Warriors' outside hitters from getting good swings.
Tyler Kubota served 15 straight points for the Buffanblu in the first set, nearly helping his team close out the set. Kubota's serving sent Waiākea scrambling, allowing the Buffanblu to terminate plays with kills and blocks. Cassiday had three kills, and Crabb and Ako had two kills each during Kubota's serving run. Waiākea outside hitter Clayton Morante Jr. was in the back row during Kubota's run that finally ended when Cassiday hit into the net. By then, it was 23-9.
"We served real well tonight," Cassiday said. "We usually don't serve as tough as we did (tonight), guys went on runs. Basically the serving did it. We blocked pretty well and we stayed disciplined. They're a good team. We were able to focus on what we could do on our side of the court."
The Buffanblu used a few of their reserves throughout Set 2 and led 21-12 after a Crabb kill. Waiākea got on a run late in the set, closing to 23-18 on Evan La Rochelle's kill.
"You can tell the difference in skill level and overall strength but we were able to make a few rallies and get some points together and give them a little bit of a game," Waiākea coach Ecko Osorio said.
Morante had six kills and La Rochelle had five in the loss.
KAMEHAMEHA 3, 'IOLANI 1
The Kamehameha boys volleyball team broke through with its first win over 'Iolani this season.
The Warriors defeated the Raiders 24-26, 25-20, 25-15, 25-16 at Kaimukī High School.
"We came in as the underdogs; that was the mindset we took," Kamehameha coach Guy Kaniho said. "We were able to dig some balls and serve a little tougher than we were able to in the first two matches against them."
Kamehameha (19-4) will once again play the role of the underdog tonight in the championship game against fellow ILH team Punahou (22-0).
Warriors junior outside hitter Micah Christenson had a match-high 28 kills with three blocks. It was the second straight night he led the Warriors with 20-plus kills, but he said his arm is "fine, I'm ready to go."
'Iolani had a difficult time with the Kamehameha serve.
"We pride ourselves on being a great passing team and we got away from that," 'Iolani coach Mike Among said. "Not sure if it was nerves but they were serving really tough. They were coming after us. We were passing OK, but not tight enough to the net where our setters had all the options. And they could load up on our hitters."
Christenson, in particular, was difficult to contain.
"We slowed (Christenson) down, I thought, we got him a few times, but he was just too dominant," Among said. "We had, I think our best blocker, Logan (Nowack) on him and we slowed him down and changed his shots, but he's just such a smart hitter and makes great decisions."
Seniors Jaylen Reyes and Micah Naone contributed 14 and 10 kills, respectively, for Kamehameha. 'Iolani senior Tyler Tanaka recorded 10 kills.
After an early lead in the first set, 'Iolani (20-3), led by four kills from junior middle Tyler Cundiff in the set, closed it out on two straight Warrior errors.
"That's been our whole season," Kaniho said. "We fall behind big, strong teams like 'Iolani, Punahou and Hawai'i Baptist. But we've managed to somehow, some way, get ourselves into position to steal it. We thought we let the first set go, but at the end we made some careless mistakes."
Kamehameha rode a 7-2 run midway through the second set to take an 18-12 lead. The Raiders would get within 19-17 but wouldn't get any closer.
"That was huge for us, just keeping it in and putting the pressure on them," Christenson said. "Allowing us to let them make the errors. We tend to make a lot of errors, so that was really big for us."
The Warriors benefitted from a 7-3 start and an 8-1 run to win the third set, led by Christenson's nine kills.
In Set 4, Kamehameha responded to a 7-1 start by 'Iolani with an 8-0 run of its own for a 16-10 advantage.
Kamehameha-Hawai'i def. Roosevelt, 25-20, 17-25, 15-11
Leading hittersóKSH: Keoni Bailado 11, Matthew Coghlan 6. Roos: Kainoa Mitchell 9, Kaipo Pale 6.
Baldwin def. Pearl City 18-25, 25-19, 15-13
Leading hittersóBald: Timmy Pang 8, TK Loewen 8. PC: Dominique Johnson 7.