[ HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL ]
Rivals meet with state spot at stake
Any "normal" competition between Iolani and Punahou, regardless of sport or academia, spikes up intensity.
Depending on who is asked, Iolani is Punahou's rival, or Punahou is Iolani's rival. With an Interscholastic League of Honolulu state girls volleyball berth at stake, the two teams will meet at Hemmeter Fieldhouse on Thursday. By the end of the night, one of the top three teams in the islands will advance to the state championships.
The loser will be done for the season.
"I'm excited for it. It's the deciding match and it's gonna be huge," Punahou outside hitter Larissa Nordyke said. "And we'll have home-court advantage."
Kamehameha sewed up the league championship last week and will rest until the state tourney next week.
When third-ranked Iolani and No. 2 Punahou last met at Hemmeter, it was Raider fans who brought more noise and volume, thanks to their band. Punahou, which last won the state title in 2004, has senior leadership. Liz Kaaihue and Nordyke both played on that state championship team.
The difference on Thursday could rest on the ankle of a sophomore, though. Iolani middle blocker Chelsea Hardin suffered an ankle injury more than a week ago and saw limited playing time in the loss to Punahou.
Nordyke led Punahou with 10 kills in a two-game sweep over the Raiders last week. Anuhea Keanini was a force with eight kills and three service aces. With Hardin on the bench, Punahou also dominated the net.
"It looks like it's going to come down to whether Chelsea Hardin is at full strength," said Hawaii Baptist coach Myles Shioji, who saw plenty of Iolani and Punahou this season.
In the Oahu Interscholastic Association, the pressure will not be quite as stifling when Moanalua and Roosevelt meet for the league crown tomorrow night. Both teams are assured of state-tournament berths. Moanalua won the regular-season matchup 26-24, 25-21 on Sept. 2.
The Menehunes, powered by Kaleinani Kabalis and Brianna Amian, got past Kahuku in the semifinals last week.
"We looked OK against Kahuku, but the best ball-handling team in the OIA is Roosevelt," Moanalua coach Thomas Lake said. "They looked really good in the semis."
Roosevelt swept Kalani 25-19, 25-22. Tomorrow's match will be televised from McKinley Student Council Gym on OC 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Sacred Hearts coach Jonathon Tom, a devout fan of both the ILH and OIA, may not have time to see the Moanalua-Roosevelt match, but he's paying close attention.
"The OIA championship match is between two of the best defensive teams in the state. Moanalua bends, but does not break. They're an emotional team with great leadership," he said. "Roosevelt has good team chemistry and great team leaders."
Tom's team will host sixth-ranked Word of Life tomorrow with the ILH's Division II title at stake. Both squads have already secured state berths.