Saturday, November 13, 2004


Punahou streaks past Hana

KEAAU, Hawaii » Despite the scrappy play the Hana Dragons have displayed this season, they seemed a little overwhelmed in last night's HHSAA State Volleyball semifinal loss to top seed Punahou 25-9, 25-9.

"I was very surprised at how we jumped on them so fast," Punahou head coach Peter Balding said. "I didn't think it would end the way it did. (Hana) is a good team and they play with all kinds of heart."

Punahou will meet Kamehameha in tonight's final. The Warriors beat Waiakea 25-18, 25-15.

In the opening game last night, Punahou jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead and never looked back. The game was over in 13 minutes as Punahou pounded the ball down time after time against the smaller Hana squad.

Led by Riley McKibbin's eight kills, Punahou didn't keep the spotlight on any one player. According to Balding, that is a big piece of the puzzle for his team, which has yet to lose this season.

"We don't rely on any one person," Balding said. "We are going to set everybody, and we expect everybody to handle the ball. We're not banking on one guy being our stud. As a team we depend on each other."

The second game was nearly a carbon copy of the first.

While Hana did put up more of a fight early, thanks to the play of Bryce and Edmund Oliveira -- who combined for seven kills -- the Dragons still couldn't score the late points they were looking for to close the gap.

Punahou limited Hana to nine again in another quick game that lasted only 15 minutes.

For Punahou the task isn't over. The Buffanblu still have one more match tonight for the state title.

"At the beginning of the year we really didn't think we'd get this far," Balding said. "We knew we had some talent and we haven't (lost) yet."

Balding wouldn't say who he'd prefer to play in the finals, but he's certain that it won't be another two quick wins.

"Whoever comes out against us," Balding said. "We're going to have our hands full."

In the second semifinal, Kamehameha made itself at home, sweeping a Waiakea team that was playing near its own back yard.

"We're playing the best ball we've played all year," Kamehameha head coach Pono Maa said. "We worked to get here all season, and now it's just a matter of taking advantage of our opportunity."

The first game was close, with the two teams knotted nine times before either team reached 10 points. But Kamehameha pulled away late thanks to dominant play from Kinsley Shelton (eight kills) and Ronson Olaso (seven kills).

Game 2 looked to be tight as well, with Waiakea's Napua Cabatu heating up, but Kamehameha pulled away again, going on a 5-0 run late in the game to put it out of reach for a 10-point victory.

Looking forward to tonight's matchup with Punahou for the state title, Maa said he knew it was going to get even tougher.

"This is what it's all about," Maa said. "We knew they'd be in the finals. They worked hard for it. It should be a great match."

Molokai def. Mililani 25-15, 18-25, 25-23

Albert Dudoit slammed a match-high 17 kills and four aces to lead the Farmers past the Trojans in a consolation match.

With the third game tied at 23, Dudoit put down a kill and followed with a set to Mark Ballocanag, who recorded his sixth kill of the match to seal the win for the Farmers.

Molokai hit .171 to Mililani's .144. Trojan Chris Burt was in on eight blocks, including two solo, helping Mililani to post 11 team blocks.

Kahuku def. Kohala 25-22, 26-24

The Red Raiders hit .306 and posted eight blocks to get past Kohala, putting Kahuku in the match for fifth place.

Daryn Keahi and Okesene Ale led Kahuku with eight kills apiece as the Red Raiders rallied from six points down in the second game to end the match in straight games.

Kauai def. Kalaheo 25-23, 23-25, 25-18

Vaafuti Tavana put down 18 kills to lead the Red Raiders to their second win of the tournament, defeating Kalaheo and earning a spot in the fifth-place game against Kahuku.

Tavana hit .297 and also contributed three blocks as the Red Raiders held the Mustangs to a .209 hitting percentage.

The Mustangs' Elias David collected 15 kills and hit .393 in the loss. He also led his team with nine digs.



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