HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Buffanblu knocked out of playoffs
In a matter of 1 hour and 15 minutes, it was all over.
Defending state champion Punahou is done for the season. Kamehameha, well-regarded as the deepest squad in the islands, swept the Buffanblu 27-25, 25-21 yesterday afternoon in the semifinals of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu playoffs.
Punahou, ranked third in the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10, saw its quest for a state title defense slip away because of a resilient Kamehameha team.
"The girls were definitely more aggressive than we've been in the past," Warriors coach Chris Blake said. "We had a very focused week of practice, knowing that Punahou would come out firing."
Sophomore outside hitter Kanani Herring used her outstanding leaping ability to pound 10 kills. Versatile Alexis Robins added seven kills and three service aces, and middles Deven Bukoski and Bekah Torres provided strength at the net.
Bukoski tallied four kills and two roofs in the opening set, and Torres had three roofs and two kills in the second.
Junior Liz Kaaihue spiked 11 kills to lead Punahou. Another junior, Larissa Nordyke, added nine kills.
Punahou closed the season 14-2. Because state tournament berths are parceled out in ratios according to the number of teams per league, the ILH has just two entries for the Division I state championships.
"I thought we played really well. We came back twice," senior Kaui Robello said. "We should be proud of the fight we fought. Kamehameha is just really scrappy. Their defense helps them win."
Kamehameha, which will play Iolani for the league title on Tuesday, claimed one of the berths yesterday.
Iolani (15-0) advanced to the ILH finals with a 25-22, 25-16 win over Mid-Pacific yesterday. Iolani is ranked No. 1 in the state, and Kamehameha (15-1) is second.
All in all, it's tough to be third in the state's toughest volleyball league. The Buffanblu departed from their usual 6-2 offense, leaving Anuhea Keanini directing traffic on her own.
"We made a few adjustments on our block because they went to a 5-1," Blake said. "It freed up Liz to concentrate on her attacking."
Kamehameha also altered its starting lineup to bring steady senior Kristal Tsukano off the bench as its first server.
"She's been a libero all season, just great. But we felt like we weren't utilizing her to her fullest ability," Blake said. "She understood her role, and Tatriana (Lorenzo) stepped up and played great defense and made good passes."
In both games, Kamehameha seized command only to withstand furious rallies by Punahou. A sparse, but hearty crowd at Hemmeter Fieldhouse saw the visiting Warriors use depth, endless hustle and near-flawless setting by Kea Kea to sometimes dominate the powerful Buffanblu.
Kamehameha, with three early aces by Robins, led 18-9 in the opening set as Punahou was unable to connect with Kaaihue consistently. Kaaihue eventually got some swings and helped her team rally for a 23-22 lead. Bukoski and Herring pounded kills to tie the game at 24 before Tsukano delivered a timely service ace.
Kamehameha closed out the set with a pair of gifts -- a service error and a lift -- from Punahou for the win.
The Warriors led in game 2, 17-10, before Punahou rallied to within 21-20 thanks to senior Jess Holland, Nordyke and Kaaihue. A hitting error by Nordyke off a bad set gave the Warriors a 2-point cushion. They finished off the match with kills by Torres -- off a perfect quick set from Kea -- Robins and Tsukano.