HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL - DIVISION I
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alex Akana and Kanani Herring of Kamehameha made a block on Shawna-Lei Kuehu of Punahou.
Kamehameha no ka oi
A crowd of nearly 5,000 sees two ILH rivals in an epic match
The second time might have been tougher, but it certainly was sweeter for the Kamehameha Warriors.
Consolation championship: McKinley def. Aiea, 26-24, 26-24
Fifth place: Kahuku def. KS-Hawaii, 25-23, 25-23
Third place: Moanalua def. Roosevelt, 25-22, 20-25, 25-11
Championship: Kamehameha def. Punahou, 35-37, 25-21, 25-21
Overcoming a monumental opening-set loss, the top-seeded Warriors rallied for a 35-37, 25-21, 25-21 win last night to capture the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division I girls volleyball state championship.
A boisterous crowd of 4,991 at the Stan Sheriff Center witnessed an epic performance by the No. 1 and 2 teams in the Star-Bulletin Top 10.
Kanani Herring and Bekah Torres were steady from the start and led the Warriors to their second state championship in as many seasons. Herring pounded 19 kills, including several unstoppable rockets from the back row, and hit .333. Torres tallied 14 kills (.281) and delivered four key service aces.
"This year's championship is better," Herring said. "Everybody stepped up at certain parts."
Her ability to drill away from the back row in the final two sets was unmatched.
"We've been trying to run pipe sets forever. My confidence wasn't that good before," Herring said. "But Kea (Kea) kept setting it perfectly."
Kealohilani Kea came through with 39 assists and nine kills as Interscholastic League of Honolulu titlist Kamehameha (20-1) overcame its nemesis.
"Punahou brought it all night. Everybody brings their best against us," coach Chris Blake said. "But our girls came out with a fire in sets two and three."
Punahou's valiant effort provided a statewide TV audience with a classic final. Larissa Nordyke, playing on a sprained ankle suffered in Monday's opening round, led her team with 19 kills (.354). Elizabeth Ka'aihue tallied 14 kills and a match-high 14 digs. Sydney Yogi hustled for 13 digs, and Shawna-Lei Kuehu had eight kills.
Sophomore setter Pihana Kea finished with 40 assists for Punahou (19-4).
"Nordyke went from 70 percent to 110 percent all of a sudden," Blake said. "They changed some of their stuff. They were hitting to different spots."
Blake countered with defensive specialists Cassidee Young and Tati Lorenzo. "They played great," he said.
The two rivals fought hard defensively. The Warriors hit just .190, while Punahou hit .164.
"That was awesome volleyball," Ka'aihue said, smiling through tears. "Kamehameha played so good and we played good. It's really emotional."
The matchup was the fourth of the season between the two teams. After being swept by the Buffanblu early in the season, Kamehameha won the ensuing two matches.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Kamehameha girls volleyball team celebrated its win over Punahou in last night's Division I final.
Game 1 was a battle for the ages, lasting 45 minutes. Neither team had a lead of more than two points throughout. After 28 ties, eight lead changes and 10 game balls for Punahou, a kill by Nordyke -- who showed no ill effects of a sprained ankle -- was followed by a kill by Ka'aihue to finally end the set.
The teams combined for 51 digs, but perhaps most harmful for the Warriors were seven service errors. Jordan Meredith, one of the top servers in the state, had two untimely serving mistakes down the stretch. By the start of Game 2, Nordyke already had 10 kills.
The Warriors, however, were not down for long. They opened Game 2 with a flurry, taking a 5-0 lead with two quick kills and a roof by Herring. Punahou pulled within two points, but the Warriors fought back. Torres stepped back to serve and sparked another 5-0 run, landing three aces as Kamehameha took a 10-3 lead.
Kamehameha's lead expanded to 14-5 before the Buffanblu were ignited again. A roof by Anuhea Keanini helped spark a rally, and with three more kills by Nordyke, Punahou was within 18-15.
Herring came up with an ace and a kill to cool off the Buffanblu as Kamehameha tied the match.
In the third set, the Warriors took a 2-1 lead and never let it go. The serving of Torres and Herring kept Punahou's offense off base.
Herring was named the tourney's Most Outstanding Player. She was joined on the team by teammates Torres, Kea and Tatiana Santiago. Punahou put Ka'aihue, Nordyke and Kuehu on the team, along with Kaleinani Kabalis of Moanalua.