Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, November 10, 2001


2 ILH teams in volleyball semis

By Cindy Luis

In a portent of what would be the 12th consecutive all-Interscholastic League of Honolulu final, Kamehameha and Iolani dispatched Maui's two entrants yesterday to gain today's semifinals of the 33rd Nissan Hawaii High School Athletic Association boys state volleyball championship.

ILH champion Kamehameha (18-0) eliminated Seabury Hall (14-5), 15-8, 15-11, while ILH runner-up Iolani ousted Maui Interscholastic League champion Maui (15-2), 15-5, 15-4, at Blaisdell Arena..

The top-seeded Warriors will face Kealakehe (16-1), the lone neighbor island team remaining, in today's 2 p.m. semifinal. In the 3:30 p.m. semifinal, the Raiders will take on Kalaheo (12-3). The third-place game is at 5:30 p.m. followed by the championship.

In last night's late quarterfinals, the Mustangs topped OIA rival Pearl City, 15-13, 15-10, while Kealakehe wore down Waimea, 6-15, 15-12, 15-9.

Only twice since 1980 has it not been an all-ILH showdown for the title. Both times it was Punahou vs. Hilo, in 1986 and 1989.

The ILH has won the past 21 state championships. The last non-ILH team to win was Roosevelt, which strung together three straight between 1977 and 1979. Hilo is the only non-Oahu team to ever win, in the inaugural tournament in 1969.

Kamehameha 2, Seabury Hall: 0: Warriors' coach Pono Ma'a admitted his team was flat and mentally not focused for their match against the Spartans. It showed as Kamehameha had a difficult time in putting away scrappy Seabury.

Credit the Spartan defense for staying in the match after the Warriors closed out Game 1 with a 6-2 run. Seabury led in Game 2 4-3 and again at 6-5.

Behind the tough serving of David Hoke and even tougher blocking of 6-6 Willie Melemai, Kamehameha jump ahead 12-8. Seabury rallied back to close to 12-11 but Hoke's service ace, a block and a kill by Melemai closed it out.

"That was as well as we could play," said Seabury coach Dan Molin. "Our team never gave up. But Kamehameha is such a solid team all around and they served tough."

Iolani 2, Maui 0: Tough serving was one of the keys to the Raiders' win over the Sabers. Iolani ran away in Game 1 behind seven straight serves by Todd Blankenship and a service run of five straight by Jon Grobe in Game 2 that led to a 12-1 margin.

"A couple of our rotations we've gotten through with smoke and mirrors,'' said Maui coach Al Paschoal. "We knew Iolani was going to be tough, they beat Punahou (the seven-time defending champ for the second ILH berth).

"They had a lot of height and our passing is usually better.''

It is the first time the Raiders have reached the semifinals since 1992. They lost to Punahou in the title match.

"It didn't matter who we played next,'' said first-year Iolani coach Luis Ramirez. "We don't take any team lightly. Every team that makes the state tournament has to be respected.

"It would be a privilege to make the championship game and I hope we get there. But we have to play well. We still have a few kinks to work out and we have to be ready."

Kalaheo assistant coach Gavin Cook has a head start on scouting. Cook was the Iolani junior varsity coach last year when several members of the current varsity team helped win the ILH JV championship.

Kalaheo 2, Pearl City 0: In the most competitive and spirited match of the night, the Mustangs used timed blocking to help oust the Chargers.

"Pearl City has a number of good jumpers, and they delay their hits," said Kalaheo coach Sivan Leoni. "We knew what their hitters would do, so we delayed our block as well.

"As a team, I think we played pretty well. I think we wanted it more.''

Game 1 was in doubt until the very end, with the teams trading leads the entire way. Two serves by Shawn Ah Mow put the Mustangs ahead 12-10, the Chargers rallied to tie it at 12.

An ace by Victor Elliott helped Kalaheo gain match point and Ikaika Alama-Francis stuffed Kapena Wong for the win. Alama-Francis finished with seven blocks and 10 kills.

Kealakehe 2, Waimea 1: The Waveriders average 6-3, the Menehunes -- true to their nickname -- average 5-9. But it took awhile for the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion to wear down the Kauai Interscholastic Federation winners.

"Waimea played well, " said Kealakehe coach Kuhina Lee, taking his team to the semifinals in just the fifth year of the school's existence. "We're still a little off. Some of my players have never been to Oahu and we're adjusting.

"We've got height but we'll see how we match up with Kamehameha's height."

Height -- rather a lack of it -- wasn't a problem for Waimea in Game 1. The Menehunes dug the Waveriders' best shots, rallying from a 7-6 deficit to take a 12-7 lead. Kealakehe closed to 13-12 but a dump by Jerrick Fabro and a kill by James Marques ended it for Waimea.

Momentum changed when the teams traded sides and the Waveriders used their superior height for a 9-0 lead. Waimea rallied to 10-5 and 13-5 but a hitting error and a block by 6-1 Matt Liulama on 5-7 Scott Rivera evened the match.

Waimea led 8-4 and 9-5 in Game 3 but couldn't hold on. Behind 9-7, Jeff Bacawag served for three straight and the Waveriders took the lead for good at 10-9. Five unanswered points put Kealakehe into the semis.

"We did everything well at the beginning," said Waimea coach Bobby Kamakele. "But we've had slow starts in the second games all year. Game 3 our passing was erratic and hats off to Kealakehe, they played well."

The Waveriders also had plenty of incentive from their coach after Game 1.

"I told them if they wanted to lose, fine, it was their game,'' said Lee, the former Hawaii setter. "We knew what we had to do to win and they did it.''

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