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Friday, October 3, 2003



[ HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL ]


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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Aneli Otineru hit one through Kamehameha's Lori Nakamura and Kristen Ponce yesterday, as Punahou swept Kamehameha 25-17, 25-21. Otineru had a match-high 12 kills.


Punahou seizes
ILH lead


Punahou girls volleyball coach Scott Rigg billed yesterday's marquee matchup between the Buffanblu and Kamehameha as "the ambush at Hemmeter."

After Punahou's 25-17, 25-21 victory at Hemmeter Fieldhouse, Rigg considered the mission accomplished.

"We've been talking about the ambush all week -- we used that to get ready, and that's what it turned out to be," said Rigg, whose team remained in first place in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play. "I liked that. We figured we'd wait around and circle the wagons up and just start plugging away with the arrows and try to wear them down."

Ironically, on an afternoon when his team pressed the issue early, it was the Buffanblu who found themselves in catch-up mode. Indeed, if Game 1 clearly belonged to Punahou (8-0), then Game 2 belonged to Kamehameha -- at least for a while.

The Warriors (8-1) led 20-17 and had never trailed in the game, only to watch Punahou outscore them 8-1 to close out the match.

The Buffanblu benefited big from the jump serves of Aneli Otineru, who was to finish with a match-high 12 kills and four aces. The hosts also took advantage of four Warrior errors in the key sequence.

"We have a couple of jump servers who can score points in Liz (Elizabeth Kaaihue) and Aneli," Rigg said. "Both have been scoring on the jumper, and tonight it was Aneli's turn. They all had a great match. The bench did a good job, and I was just happy we stayed patient.

"They (Kamehameha) woke up in Game 2, and we knew they would," he continued. "We started mishandling the ball, and they started handling the ball, and it was a bad combination.

"When you're down a few points, sometimes that can get into your head, but these kids are staying pretty patient. We've been able to muster some pretty good comebacks this year. I hope it's a trait that stays with us for a while, especially with the rally scoring."

Said Kamehameha coach Chris Blake: "They served us off of the court -- we couldn't pass the ball, and we couldn't get the ball back into our system. They definitely got us out of our game. Punahou played really well -- they definitely outplayed us."

While it was Otineru who drove the Buffanblu across the finish line, Punahou also got solid play from Kaui Robello (six kills) and Spenser Riggs (12 digs).

For Kamehameha, Makana Recca, Mounia Nihipali and Kristen Ponce had four kills apiece. Recca provided three of her kills in succession in Game 2 for the Warriors to help them assume their largest lead of the night at 13-7 before Punahou began to position itself for its decisive run.

"We regrouped and did a lot of things better in the second set," Blake said. "We have to work a lot more on finishing the game. We were up 20-17, and we ended up giving the game away. We let them run away at the end."

Game 1 ended as it began -- on a kill by Otineru. The Warriors trailed 4-0 and were hard-pressed to make up ground throughout, pulling within two only twice (the last time at 8-6) as Punahou eventually built its advantage to 23-15.

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