HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Kamehameha girls volleyball team celebrated a point during last night's win over Iolani.
Warriors drop Raiders for title
The questions and the drama made Kamehameha's inevitable rise to the top all the better to enjoy.
The Warriors captured their 13th title with a 25-21, 25-17 win over Iolani last night in the HHSAA/NewCityNissan.com Girls Volleyball State Championships at Stan Sheriff Center.
"It was a very challenging season for everybody, but it's great to see us play our best at the end," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. "I'm happy for our girls, especially our seniors. This was a great team effort from top to bottom by the girls and the coaching staff."
Kamehameha (20-1) did it with a balanced attack and the deepest bench in the islands. Senior Deven Bukoski (.364) and sophomore Kanani Herring led the way with six kills apiece. Alexis Robins, a junior, hustled for 15 digs, and classmate Kealohilani Kea dished out 19 assists.
"It's a relief. I'm real happy for all of us, that we pulled together," said Bukoski, who signed a letter of intent last night to play for Cal State Fullerton. "The sets were there and we just flowed with it."
Lauren Minkel, a sophomore, led Iolani (18-3) with nine kills and added five digs. Junior setter Kapua Kamana'o had 19 assists, and Kelly Pang led the Raider defense with nine digs.
"Hat's off to Kamehameha. We lost focus a little throughout the match," Iolani coach Luis Ramirez said. "It's a big difference from Kahuku."
Iolani swept the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion in the semifinals, but the quick sets that caught the Red Raiders off guard didn't have the same effect on Kamehameha.
"We couldn't put any pressure on them. Our serving wasn't great," said Ramirez, who announced early in the year that he would resign from Iolani after the season.
The Warriors, ranked behind Punahou and Iolani for much of the regular season, swept Iolani a week ago to claim the Interscholastic League of Honolulu crown. Beating the Raiders again was no simple feat.
"We knew we had to come out strong and the girls came out really focused from the first whistle," said Blake, who was a longtime assistant at Kamehameha and Iolani before taking the helm with his alma mater. "They brought their best game. We were very well-balanced and spread out the ball, had a great effort and passed relatively well."
Having a multitude of weapons was the difference for Kamehameha. Sophomore Rebekah Torres had four kills and provided tenacious defense with her 5-foot-10 frame and long arms. Opposite Tehane Kahalehau had four timely kills and libero Tatiana Santiago added seven digs.
Iolani didn't give up many easy points in the opening set, but the Warriors were simply too balanced and powerful. Five times, Iolani tied the game before Leinani Keanini's ace gave the Raiders a 15-14 lead.
From that point, Kamehameha put the game out of reach with a 7-1 run. Herring came through with a roof and a kill, and Torres had an ace and Bukoski had two kills to give the Warriors a 21-16 lead.
Back-to-back kills by Minkel brought the Raiders within three, but a pair of misses by Chelsea Ching gave Kamehameha a commanding 23-18 lead. A kill by Kahalehau and a roof by Torres ended the first game.
Minkel tallied six kills (.375), a roof and an ace in the opening set, but got little help elsewhere as Iolani hit .064.
The Warriors jumped to a 9-2 lead in the second game, neutralizing Iolani's normally tough serving. Iolani, which had two service errors in the first set, committed four more in the second.
Torres, Bukoski and Herring continued to overwhelm the Raiders at the net. With Kahalehau and Robins balancing out the attack from both sides, the Warriors controlled the game. Iolani got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Third place: Roosevelt def. Kahuku 25-19, 26-28, 25-23
Fifth place: Moanalua def. Kamehameha-Maui 14-25, 25-19, 25-21
Seventh place: Aiea def. Waipahu 25-23, 25-18