HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Roosevelt boys volleyball team jumped for joy after defeating Kalaheo in the OIA final.
Roosevelt sweeps titles
Boys earn first title since 1980
The masses called out, "Go Big Red," and that's promptly what the undersized Roosevelt Rough Riders did.
The fourth-ranked Roosevelt boys ended 26 years of frustration by sweeping defending champion Kalaheo 25-22, 25-23 last night to capture the Oahu Interscholastic Association boys volleyball title.
Kalaheo (13-2) will begin play in the state championships on Monday. Roosevelt will have a first-round bye and begin on Tuesday.
A raucous crowd of about 1,000 saw Roosevelt (14-1) capture its first league crown since 1980, when coach Robin Goo led the Rough Riders to their fourth title in a row.
Goo would be proud of this year's squad, which has only one player above 6 feet tall. Jordan Murakami, a 5-foot-8 senior, led Roosevelt with 11 kills, and Uluwehi Keaunui, a 5-9 senior, added six more for the resilient Rough Riders.
Tyler Caswell, a 6-6 senior, led Kalaheo with eight kills, a roof and an ace. Chase Moses added five kills, and Timothy Moyer tallied 10 assists and sophomore Christian Kepa added six assists.
"The energy level was good for us, but it shifted back and forth. It was whoever got the momentum at the end," said Roosevelt setter Kyle Maki, who played a near-flawless match and finished with 20 assists.
"We might not have more digs than we did before, but our defense played real good," he added.
Roosevelt fell to Kalaheo in a three-set regular-season match on Sept. 5.
This time, Roosevelt was steady enough to catch Kalaheo on an off night.
"We didn't play well against Mililani or McKinley, so we pushed them harder mentally," Roosevelt coach Kaui Mendonca said of this week's preparation. "Our confidence level this past week was good."
Mendonca came aboard the Roosevelt staff 15 years ago under Hoku Haliniak. The 26-year hiatus between titles was on his mind after the victory.
"It is special. I'm happy to be a part of it," he said. "Hoku took me on and taught me so much, and we've developed what she taught from there."
Kalaheo first-year head coach Gavin Cook is glad the state tourney starts up quickly -- on Monday.
"Early in the match, we held off the unforced errors, but we made key errors later. Part of it was Roosevelt playing well," the former UH standout said. "It's hard to expect high school kids to make every play."
The Mustangs had the edge in roofs, 6-1, but mistakes cost them dearly. Only 22 of Roosevelt's 50 points came on kills.
Kalaheo, ranked fifth in the state, was in control of Game 1.
"It was 19-14, then we had a couple of calls that could've gone either way. That would've made a difference," Cook said. "We'll recover. At least we're not done."
Down 19-14, Roosevelt got its next three points on Kalaheo errors and went on an 11-3 run to close out the set. The Rough Riders took the lead for good, 23-22, on a kill by Murakami and closed it out with a kill by Keaunui.
The second set was tied 10 times before a line violation cost Kalaheo the lead, allowing Roosevelt to tie the game one more time at 23. A kill by Murakami gave the Rough Riders a 24-23 lead, and a hitting error by Moyer ended the match.