HHSAA BOYS VOLLEYBALL
KS-Hawaii pulls off big D-1 upset
The Big Island Warriors knock off the ILH's Warriors
Their team name, mascot, uniform colors, and even their coaches' first names were the same.
But Kamehameha-Hawaii proved to be the stronger of two similar teams, winning 25-22, 25-23 over Kamehameha in the Division I quarterfinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships last night at McKinley High School.
It was a major upset even though Kamehameha-Hawaii (15-2) earned an opening-round bye and a No. 3 seed as the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Champion, while Kamehameha was the Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up.
The Big Island Warriors' biggest strength was at the net, where they roofed the Oahu Warriors seven times, including three straight points in Game 1 to gain an early edge.
"The big blocking impacted us," said KS-Hawaii coach Guy Enriques. "We (had) a super edge. (We) do our support, we help from the bench, I cannot say more about the guys on the team. A real important concept of how we're successful is the team attitude."
And they showed it, with raucous cheers up and down their bench, especially on their blocks.
Kamehameha-Hawaii senior Joshua Walters agreed.
"This is a great team, great bench," he said after leading his team with seven of his eight kills in Game 2, including the match-winning blast down the right side. "(The blocks) got everybody amped up. Everybody plays better because you get energy off of it."
When balls got past Kamehameha-Hawaii's block, its back row was able to dig balls up effectively.
Kamehameha coach Guy Kaniho lamented his team's inability to adjust to its opponent after a preseason tournament in August.
"We came in as a different team, we've grown a lot, gotten a lot better. So have they, obviously," said Kaniho. "Tonight they just executed better than we did."
The Kapalama Warriors (16-4) almost forced a Game 3 when they rattled off a 7-3 run to tie things up at 22. Clifton Asuncion blasted back-to-back kills off the Kamehameha-Hawaii block, and forced Enriques to call a timeout.
"We were not executing the game plan," Enriques said. "We were kind of freelancing it -- I kind of got on them. We have a set lineup for what they (had) up front. We knew what they were going to come at."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha-Hawaii's Chandler Kaa'a, left, and Kealoha Kramer blocked a kill attempt by Kamehameha's Clifton Asuncion.
So Enriques told his team to make the proper adjustments, and his team stopped the bleeding, coming out of the timeout with a kill by Walters, then a roof by Chandler Kaa'a and Kealoha Kramer. After a sideout point, they went again to their hottest hand, Walters, who pounded the ball off the block and down for the win.
Kaniho explained that Kamehameha takes after the style of its coach.
"They blocked extremely well, they had a lot of digs also. Knowing their coach, Guy Enriques, way back when he and I played against each other, I know what they're going to come in with: scrappy defense."
Both coaches played down any rivalry between the two schools, but Walters relished the chance to play his schoolmates.
"It's a big kind of rivalry because they were the first Kamehameha," said Walters. "We both wanted it, but only one could go on. It's a great opportunity to play (against them).
Asuncion led the Big Island Warriors with six kills, and Micah Aiu added five. Kaniho was pleased with his team's effort to make it this far.
"We were predicted to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack (in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu) and to come to states, it's been an accomplishment, but we knew as a team we have what it takes. Our best tonight just wasn't good enough."
Roosevelt 2, Kamehameha-Maui 1
Roosevelt survived a serious scare from unheralded Kamehameha-Maui in the other quarterfinal match at McKinley High School last night, holding off the upstart Warriors 22-25, 25-19, 25-20.
Kamehameha-Maui (5-6) almost succeeded in making today's McKinley semifinal match an all-Kamehameha affair, rebounding with authority from a 6-1 deficit in Game 1 and shocking the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Rough Riders (15-1) by taking the set.
Instead of folding, Roosevelt relied heavily on junior outside hitter Kaina Palama (match-high 14 kills) in the final two games and squeaked past the underdog, earning a place in a semifinal matchup today against Kamehameha-Hawaii at 7:30 p.m.