State's top 2 teams tangle for ILH title
Somehow, in the larger scope of high school volleyball, it just seems a bit tough to swallow when a very good team can't play in a state tournament.
Still, each season, it happens, particularly in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. The latest casualty of the state tournament berth limits is Punahou, a team that was ranked No. 1 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10 for much of the season.
Kamehameha ousted the Buffanblu on Saturday in the ILH semifinals, meaning the Warriors and regular-season winner Iolani will represent the league at the state tournament. One way or another, the league would've had at least one deserving team outside of the state tourney picture.
Punahou dropped from two spots to No. 5 in today's poll. The defending state champion played well enough to beat almost every other team in the state on Saturday, but Kamehameha is reaching its immense potential in a hurry.
"It's a great team win. All 14 players contributed to the match in preparation," Warriors coach Chris Blake said. Blake and his Warriors will meet Iolani, a team he assisted before taking the helm at Kamehameha, tonight for the ILH playoff title.
Iolani, ranked No. 1, garnered nine of 11 first-place votes. Second-ranked Kamehameha collected the other two first-place votes.
For Punahou, a team with only three seniors, it was a somber end to the season. While most programs would be fine with a 14-3 mark, it doesn't quite raise a pulse at Punahou, a school with unmatched volleyball tradition.
"It's over, but I'm proud of the way the team came back," said senior middle blocker Jess Holland, who tallied four kills and a roof. "We dug ourselves a hole early. I think Kamehameha is so physically talented."
Carly Hiromoto agreed.
"We played our hardest and left everything on the court," the senior said, adding some advice for this year's underclassmen. "Always play for the people who played before you, and play your heart out."