HHSAA BOYS VOLLEYBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Waiakea's Mitchell Shintani hit against Leilehua's Bryson Sevilla last night at Punahou Gym.
Waiakea confident after sweep
Waiakea outside hitter Clayton Morante Jr. figures his team didn't play its best in a 25-17, 25-13 romp over Leilehua in a New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships opening-round Division I match last night.
That gives him and his teammates confidence for today's 7:30 p.m. showdown with undefeated defending champion Punahou, which had an opening-round bye as the top seed.
Morante, a freshman, led his team with eight kills, and Jasen Suwa chipped in six for the Warriors (15-1), the Big Island Interscholastic Federation's runner-up. Jonah Retutal added two aces.
"I think we played an OK game -- it wasn't our best," Morante said. "(Today) we'll see how we do. We're going to have to work on digging balls all over the court. Gonna be a fun match."
The Warriors outplayed the Mules from the opening serve, jumping out to leads of 5-1, 11-5, and 17-10 in Game 1 to keep Leilehua playing defensively. A Mules run of 7-2 late in the game wasn't enough to get it done, and Waiakea took a renewed swagger into Game 2 when Aaron Osorio and Branden Medeiros teamed for the game-winning block.
Things completely fell apart offensively for the Mules in Game 2. Malakai Keola managed Leilehua's lone kill in the set, as the Warriors pounded balls into seams that forced the Mules into bad passes on the occasions the Warriors' hits didn't drop as kills.
Suwa knocked down four of his kills in the set, and the Warriors scored from all angles to make it a question of how soon, not if, they would win.
Senior hitter Joziah Estavillo and sophomore blocker Bryson Sevilla each had two kills to lead Leilehua (12-4).
Mules coach Ernest Balignasay didn't know what to expect from Waiakea going in, but noted his players are young and will utilize the tournament experience for future years.
"We never had so many (errant) passes before," Balignasay said. "I'd say 85 percent of them we were there (to attack). We just didn't challenge (attacks) so we could put it up. We were physically there, not mentally."
The biggest challenge today for Waiakea coach Ecko Osorio will be directing his team against a Buffanblu team he hasn't seen before.
"We're gonna have to be mentally prepared, take care of our side of the court and hopefully learn on the run," he said as he lamented the lack of available game film. "Maybe (we'll) pick up a few tendencies that Punahou likes to do. Hopefully we can run our offense a little bit better (today)."
All they have to do is dig a little deeper, as Morante believes they can.
Kalaheo 2, Kahuku 0
The Mustangs (14-2) had 13 service errors to the Red Raiders' nine, but did enough to win their opening-round match 25-20, 25-20.
Kalaheo was bolstered late in Game 1 by senior hitter Timothy Moyer, who strung together three straight aces to win the game and redeemed his team's struggles at the service line.
Tyler Caswell led the Mustangs with seven kills, and senior Frank Buttel led Kahuku (5-12) with three kills and two aces.
Kalaheo advances to face fourth-seeded Lahainaluna today at 6 p.m. at Punahou.