HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou School's Matthew Brown went up for a block against Maryknoll last night as the No. 1 Buffanblu swept the No. 9 Spartans in an ILH match played at St. Andrew's Priory.
Will Ehrman pounded down a match-high seven kills as No. 1 Punahou overpowered No. 9 Maryknoll in a 25-16, 25-15 sweep yesterday at James C. Campbell Gym on the St. Andrew's Priory campus.
Spencer McLachlin and Matthew Brown each added six kills to help the Buffanblu to move into a three-way tie atop the Interscholastic League of Honolulu standings. Punahou, Iolani and Kamehameha all have 4-0 records. Maryknoll dropped to 2-3.
Jordan Durant and Tri Borne led the Spartans with five kills apiece.
The Buffanblu started the match on a tear, going up 5-0 on a double block by McLachlin and Kealii Frank on Tyler Tsukazaki. The Spartans got as close as three points after a shot down the line by Borne, but quickly found the lead out of reach after McLachlin reached the service line.
With Punahou already up by four, McLachlin used his powerful jump serve to help the Buffanblu score eight straight points. McLachlin, last year's Star-Bulletin Player of the Year, picked up two aces during the run, which gave the Buffanblu a 16-4 lead.
"They struggled early with their ball-handling, and that gave us opportunities to score points," Punahou coach Peter Balding said. "I don't know so much if it was what we were doing. I think they didn't really play as well as I've seen them play."
The Spartans slowly chipped away at the Punahou lead late in the game. The Maryknoll duo of Richard Herring and Durant was able to control McLachlin, who had collected four kills in the first game. Herring and Durant picked up back-to-back blocks on McLachlin to bring the Spartans within eight.
"I thought we did pretty well in spurts," Maryknoll coach Blaine Gier said. "We pretty much shut down (McLachlin) in the first set. But him being the good player that he is, he came in the second."
A kill by Frank in the middle ended the first game, and set the tone for the second. Solid passing enabled Punahou to set the middle almost exclusively early in Game 2.
"We saw that we outmatch them in the middle, so our objective was to attack the middle. Attack it early and attack it often," Balding said. Frank and Brown each picked up three kills in the second game.
The Spartans kept it close in the early going of the game, taking their first lead of the entire match at 8-7 on a hitting error by Frank that sailed long. But a Spartan service error and another block by McLachlin and Brown gave the Buffanblu the lead for good.
Punahou went on a 14-2 run, which included five Spartan hitting errors.
"Punahou is the best in the state. In order for us to do well, we're going to have to pretty much play without any errors," Gier said. "They're a team that they take advantage if you're making a lot of errors."
Near the end of Game 2, Durant limped off the court after tweaking his left knee coming down from a block. The senior outside hitter sat out the rest of the match after being checked by the Maryknoll trainer.
Gier said that Durant, who has been prone to ankle and knee injuries in the recent past, should be ready to go for the Spartans' match against No. 4 Kamehameha today.
"He hustles a lot and bangs around all over the place, so an injury for him tends to be real easy," Gier said.
As for the Buffanblu, they visit No. 2 Iolani today. Tomorrow, there will be at least one less undefeated team in the ILH.
"We're going to have to play a pretty error-free game," Balding said. "They're playing real good team volleyball. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."