HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha's Kanani Herring hit the ball past a block attempt by Punahou's Kaui Robello, left, and Jess Holland.
Warriors knock down Buffanblu
It began as a battle between undefeated Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls volleyball powers Kamehameha and Punahou. It ended with an upset.
The No. 3 Warriors (10-0) rallied for a 20-25, 28-26, 25-16 victory over the top-ranked Buffanblu after nearly being swept out of their own Kekuhaupio Gym last night.
"(Punahou) played very well, they're a very well-coached team," said Kamehameha coach Chris Blake. "They execute really well and they put us in some bad spots in the first game, and props to our girls for getting through it."
The top-ranked Buffanblu claimed the first game, despite initially trailing 11-7. Punahou went on a 14-5 run and put the game away when Kamehameha outside hitter Kanani Herring hit the ball into the net.
Herring would prove instrumental in leading the Warriors to their Game 2 comeback. The sophomore had a team-high 12 kills, and also added five blocks and two service aces.
Game 2 went back and forth, with both teams battling for every point. Elizabeth Kaaihue gave the Buffanblu (9-1) a 26-25 lead and set up her team for match point. But, Kamehameha withstood the pressure and ran off three straight points, the last of which came on a block by Herring, sending the match into the deciding third game.
"At the end of the first game, we were all pumped up because we knew that was our game," said Herring. "All we had to do was stick together, work hard and play as a team."
The Warriors carried the momentum into the third game and got out to an 11-7 lead. Kamehameha increased the lead to 19-14 after a Bekah Torres block, and forced Punahou coach Scott Rigg to call timeout. The Buffanblu couldn't overcome the deficit, and Alexis Robins pounded down the kill on the final match point for the Warrior win.
"We made a switch between Game 2 and 3, we tried to change our matchups a little bit," Blake said. "We have a very good team, and we're lucky enough to have players on our team who may not get a chance to play, but do a good job of preparing (the starters), so hats off to them.
"Punahou is a really tough-serving team, we talked about it and (knew) it would come down to ball control and execution. We did a lot of little things in order for us to be in the position we're in."
Kaaihue led the Buffanblu with 12 kills, and Larisa Nordyke contributed nine more. Robins garnered nine kills for Kamehameha.
"We're all looking forward to the rest of the season," Herring said. "We're going strong, and we work hard every practice to get better."