HHSAA GIRLS VOLLEYBALL DI
Punahou reaches semis
The experience of playing in a league as tough as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu paid mighty dividends for Punahou last night.
Senior Elizabeth Kaaihue put down a career-high 21 kills and Shawna-Lei Kuehu added 13 kills and three blocks as Punahou survived an early scare to knock off the third-seeded Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors 22-25, 25-15, 25-15 in the Division I quarterfinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships at McKinley.
"I thought we might have the advantage after playing last night and getting the jitters out," Punahou coach Jim Iams said. "I thought they might be a little tight since they hadn't played, but it goes to show what I know."
It was the first loss of the season for the Warriors (16-1), who had played just one three-set match in their 16 regular-season contests.
"I was happy with the way we played and I thought we did a good job rising to the occasion," Kamehameha-Hawaii coach Tammy Lee said. "It was unfortunate we fell flat in the last game. We really struggled with our passing."
Anuhea Keanini added seven kills for the Buffanblu (18-3), but the story of the game was Kaaihue, who scored the final four points of the match on kills for Punahou en route to her career night.
"I was thinking too much in the first set and trying to overcompensate for the loss of (injured) Larissa (Nordyke)," Kaaihue said. "Once I settled down and got going, I found a groove."
Precious Salazar and Lia Enos each had three kills in the first game for the Warriors, who took a 23-19 lead. After two hitting errors and a kill by Keanini cut the lead to one, setter Kuulei Kabalis put down a dump shot, and Punahou's 10th hitting error of the game gave the Warriors the first set.
"That was kind of a wake-up call for us," Kuehu said. "They came out real aggressive and made us realize they can play with us."
Punahou was forced to tinker with its lineup after losing Nordyke to a sprained ankle on Monday. She warmed up with the team and was dressed for the game, but didn't play, and her status for the rest of the tournament is still up in the air.
The Warriors kept it close in Game 2 and trailed by two when Kuehu served seven straight points to give the Buffanblu a commanding 20-11 lead. The Warriors had nine total errors and just three kills in the game as the Buffanblu regained the momentum.
"The key was just to slow down between each point and execute what we wanted to do," Kaaihue said. "We needed to show excitement after every kill and play with some intensity, and we did."
The third game was all Punahou as the Buffanblu scored seven of the first nine points and never trailed in the set. Kaaihue and Kuehu combined for 15 kills in the final game, and took over when their team needed it the most.
"(Kaaihue) always tells me to believe in her and she'll come through, so I told her the same thing back," Kuehu said. "It took a while for us to blend together and get used to not having Larissa (Nordyke) in there."
After taking down the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, the Buffanblu will now face Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Roosevelt in the semifinals tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Roosevelt 2, Maui 0
Junior Emily Maeda led a balanced Roosevelt offense with seven kills as the second-seeded Rough Riders won their opening match of the tournament, defeating the Sabers 25-23, 25-20.
Maui, which swept Kalani in its opening-round match on Monday, led by as many as eight in the first game as two straight lift calls gave the Sabers a 17-9 lead.
However, Maeda energized the Rough Riders with back-to-back kills, and Roosevelt rebounded by scoring 16 of the game's final 22 points to pull out the win.
Janet Ugaitafa had six kills and a block and Tasha Kuilani added four aces to lead the Sabers, who were out-killed 26-17.
Maui (11-3) will face Kamehameha-Hawaii today, with the winner advancing to the fifth-place game.
McKinley 2, Kalani 1
Playing in their home gym, the Tigers moved on to the consolation championship by stopping the Falcons 17-25, 25-21, 26-21.
McKinley (7-11) plays Aiea tomorrow.
Kalani dropped to 9-8.