HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lauren Minkel of Iolani blasted one of her eight kills past Kristyn Fujita of St. Francis last night.
Raiders flatten Troubadours
Even while the Iolani girls volleyball team struggled with its focus and chemistry, visiting St. Francis had no answer for outside hitter Lauren Minkel as the Raiders beat the Troubadours last night 25-14, 25-14.
Minkel established the tone of the match early, taking back-to-back sets off the net and crushing them to the floor for the Raiders' second and third points. The 5-foot-9 junior finished with eight kills, just two fewer than the entire Troubadours team.
Middles Marya Kaminski and Chelsea Hardin each added five kills for the Raiders (3-0).
"Our team chemistry needs to get better. That's one of our goals this season and I think that's what we need to strive for," Iolani senior setter Kapua Kamana'o said.
"It's kind of hard to get past the not-as-good teams. I think we kind of bring ourselves down to that level," she added.
Next week, the Raiders will be the lone Hawaii representative in the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas. The tournament features some of the best teams in the country, including 2006 Ann Kang Invitational champion Mira Costa (Calif.) and last season's top-ranked program Assumption (Ky.).
"We're trying to gear up for that tournament with the intensity level, but it's hard sometimes," Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng said. "I think right now their mentality is they're looking at that team across the net, and they think (winning is) a given. ... But they're putting the effort in there.
"I don't want them to overlook the teams here, but I think they're thinking about the trip already."
In their first two matches of the season, the Raiders easily swept past Division II Le Jardin and Hanalani.
The Raiders took a controlling 5-0 lead in Game 1, following a block by Kamana'o and Hardin on Troubadours ace Kylie Harrington.
"The passes just weren't very good in the beginning," St. Francis coach Eric Perry said. "But we've got to learn to come out of it, play tough. The passing has got to get better."
Harrington continued to struggle throughout the match, committing six errors to go along with three kills. Though St. Francis tied the game at 7 behind two aces and inaccurate Raider passing, Iolani pulled away with a 9-2 run.
The Troubadours were able to keep within a few points of the Raiders to begin the second game. But the Raiders pulled away again, going on a 9-1 run to take a 16-7 lead. Last season, St. Francis played against the toughest teams in the state during the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season, still making the state playoffs despite losses to the bigger programs. But this year, the Troubadours can't afford to take those losses.
Now in D-I, the 2005 D-II state champion Troubadours (1-2) started the season with a two-game loss to D-I champion Kamehameha, then beat Mid-Pacific before being swept by the Raiders.
"We lost our good middle last year (Kawena Cubi-Otineru), so we're trying to fill that spot," Perry said. "We have a lot of inexperience at middle right now, so hopefully by next year it will be a little better. It takes time."
Troubadour middles Kapua Cameron and Ashlyn Akau each collected two kills, one in each game.