HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Punahou serves up another win
Thanks to seven service aces and a near-flawless defensive effort, the third-ranked Punahou Buffanblu girls volleyball team manhandled No. 6 St. Francis 25-10, 25-15 last night at La Pietra Gym.
Larissa Nordyke pounded seven kills and Liz Kaaihue added five to lead a balanced Punahou attack. The Buffanblu were back on the hardwood for the first time since losing to Kamehameha last week, falling from the No. 1 ranking in the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10.
"That loss taught us to love the game more," said Punahou coach Scott Rigg, who has guided the Buffanblu to six state titles in boys and girls volleyball. "The loss is part of our journey. We've put it in our pocket and moved on. Our girls have stepped up to the plate."
The Buffanblu, regardless of wins and losses, add more to their arsenal as a team with each practice session.
"We're trying to be more aggressive, play more balls with our hands. We've been working hard on getting three good quality touches each time," Rigg said. "It's hard to do at the high school level, but that's what we want."
Of Punahou's seven aces, middle blocker Jess Holland had three.
Nordyke had two aces on jump serves, while Kaaihue and Carly Hiromoto added one ace apiece. The Buffanblu had only one service error.
Kylie Harrington led St. Francis with 11 kills, but for a good part of the match, most of her teammates seemed shell-shocked.
"It's mental. I felt we could compete, personally," Troubadours coach Eric Perry said. "I think Punahou was more hungry for a win."
The Troubadours' passing problems had an effect on offensive production. Outside hitter Kawena Otineru finished with only four kills.
"We still have a lot to work on, definitely our passing," Perry said. "This year, there's more games, so there's been less practice time."
St. Francis, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's Division II leader, failed to gain momentum early on. The Troubadours committed passing and hitting errors in bunches, allowing Punahou to take a 5-0 lead.
Harrington put two down to bring the Troubadours within 9-5. St. Francis' multitude of errors, however, made it easy on Punahou's air-tight defense.
The Buffanblu outscored their foes 16-5 to close out Game 1.
Punahou needed only seven kills to win the opening game.
As expected, St. Francis showed its true colors in Game 2. The Troubadors took a quick 3-1 lead, but Punahou's offense came alive. Kaaihue, a versatile, powerful senior, ripped a pair of kills and added an ace to spark a 14-6 run by the Buffanblu.
St. Francis pulled within 18-14 as Otineru and Harrington combined for seven points in a mini-run. However, Kaui Robello and Shaena-Lyn Kuehu delivered kills as Punahou closed out the match with a 7-1 blitz.