HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Warriors come to life to beat Buffanblu
For a moment, Punahou seemed to be on par with the best in state.
Then the Kamehameha Warriors awoke to upend Punahou 25-20, 25-27, 25-15 and capture the Hawaii Invitational girls volleyball tournament championship last night at Kekuhaupio Gym.
"Punahou is a great team, solid all across," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. "Kanani (Herring) stepped it up in the end, and our team made it happen."
Defending champion Kamehameha went unbeaten through pool play and championship-bracket action over a three-day span.
Herring, the returning Star-Bulletin State Player of the Year, got plenty of help and finished with a match-high 17 kills. Teammate Bekah Torres tallied 13 kills, two aces and a roof for the balanced Warriors.
"We had great teamwork," said Herring, a 5-foot-9 junior. "Our passing is improving, and (setter) Tati (Santiago) was great all tournament."
Punahou senior Liz Kaaihue had a team-high 16 kills.
The Buffanblu were even with the host Warriors until Herring had a roof and consecutive kills midway through Game 1. That sparked a 6-0 run, and Kamehameha didn't look back.
Punahou showed resolve in the second game, rallying from a 23-20 deficit. Hitting errors by Kamehameha helped, but Kaaihue came through with three kills, including the game-winner to tie the match.
"We talked to our girls about handling our side, concentrating on our passing, getting the ball into the system, getting our attackers in the right spot," Blake said.
Herring got hot in the third game with four quick kills as Kamehameha zoomed to a 9-4 lead. Kaaihue, facing double blocks for most of the night, couldn't do much offensively as the Warriors rolled to victory.
Kamehameha ousted Roosevelt in the semifinals 25-19, 25-19, while Punahou eliminated Moanalua 25-20, 25-18. Kahuku defeated Aiea 25-12, 25-21 in the consolation final.