High School Beat
Iolani girls volleyball team leaves emotions on the court
A STRANGE thing didn't happen after the Kamehameha Warriors swept the Iolani Raiders to win the girls volleyball state championship last week.
The Raiders didn't weep. Nor did they sob.
In fact, the Raiders showed none of the extremes and emotions that a team stocked with underclassmen usually shows after a loss in the title match.
"You play hard, you leave it on the court. That's why our girls aren't crying," Iolani coach Luis Ramirez said.
Ramirez, a longtime coach who switched from the boys to the girls this season, did a notable job in molding a young, talented group into one of the best in the state. Ramirez's passion for the game never relented, though he knew this would be his final season at Iolani.
The same is true of Meghan Burton, the senior middle blocker who transferred from Sacred Hearts last year. She sat out a season, as league rules require. Iolani nearly won the league crown before Kamehameha caught fire to capture the title, and eventually, the state crown.
"We played great and left it all on the court. If we're gonna lose, at least it was to Kamehameha, which played better than us," the 6-foot-2 two-sport standout said.
"It's been four years since Iolani set foot in this tourney, so this is not a disappointment at all.
"We accomplished our goal of making the state tournament and our goal of making the finals."
All about the love: There was no question whatsoever that this year's Kamehameha girls volleyball team had talent in droves. The Warriors also have a love for the game that is matched by few other programs; they may have more club players than any other.
But with all that firepower, there were only so many positions and so much playing time coach Chris Blake could dole out. The Warriors had to deal with a unique problem over the course of the season.
They dealt with it all the way to a state championship.
"We paid attention to our side of the net, and what happens, happens," senior Deven Bukoski said. "I have faith in our team and faith in each and every one of these girls."
One of those girls, Kanani Herring, joined Bukoski and setter Kealohilani Kea on the all-tournament team. Herring, an explosive leaper, led her team in kills and was voted the most valuable player of the tourney.
"I just wanted to help my teammates and give them support, give them offense and defense. Everybody wanted it and I'm so happy," the sophomore said.
Senior Tehane Kahalehau believes her squad came away stronger, perhaps better, for their struggles.
"I think as a team, we learned to love each other. For us seniors last year, finishing second was hard for us," she said of the title match loss to Punahou.
"There was definitely a point where we knew we'd get over it. Everybody bought into it. I'd do it all over again."
Bukoski, who stayed in the middle to give her team a better chance at success, will play at outside hitter when she arrives at Cal State Fullerton next season.
"I'm gonna miss the girls and my coaches," the 6-foot-1 standout said.
Herring could be the anchor of a Kamehameha dynasty.
"The seniors were wonderful. I'm happy that everybody worked together," she said.
Blake assisted at Iolani before returning to coach at his alma mater.
"Iolani is a great team," he said. "We weathered the storm."
More all-tournament: Joining the three Warriors on the all-tourney team were Lauren Minkel, Kapua Kamana'o and Kelly Pang of Iolani, and Kaleinani Kabalis of Moanalua.
Minkel and Kabalis are sophomores. Kamana'o and Pang are juniors.
To nominate ...
To nominate an athlete of the week, contact the Star-Bulletin Sports Department by 11 p.m. Sunday: