HHSAA BOYS VOLLEYBALL
Kalaheo sweeps Lahainaluna out of tournament
The Lunas of Lahainaluna needed a little help to get past heavily-favored Kalaheo last night.
The Mustangs refused to comply. Kalaheo dominated the Maui Interscholastic League champions for a 25-13, 25-13 sweep in the Division I quarterfinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships at muggy Hemmeter Fieldhouse.
Kalaheo (15-2), runner-up from the Oahu Interscholastic Association, will meet top-seeded Punahou in tonight's semifinal round. The match will began at 7:30 p.m. at Hemmeter.
Lahainaluna coach Tommy Akina was impressed with the Mustangs.
"I've seen Kalaheo play on OC 16, and they're awesome. We're supposed to pick up our game," he said.
The Mustangs were unseeded, but ranked fifth statewide in the most recent Star-Bulletin Top 10 poll. Setter Christian Kepa spread the wealth evenly to his teammates and finished with 16 assists.
Senior Chase Moses led Kalaheo hitters with eight kills, and Timothy Mayer had five kills, a roof and an ace, and Clifton Pires tallied four kills and a roof.
Six-foot junior Pono Wong mowed down the Lunas defense with five of his team's seven aces. Lahainaluna had just one ace.
"We usually hold him back a little, tell him to keep it in," Kalaheo coach Gavin Cook said. "But with Punahou tomorrow, we have to be ready."
Wong wouldn't deny that his serving was on point.
"That's the best serves I've had, ever. It's the most important part of the game," he said.
Akina asked his team for great effort, and he wasn't disappointed.
"I told them, just have fun and try your best. As coaches, that's all we can ask for," he said.
Rodell Maulit led Lahainaluna (6-4) with five kills. His team had just six kills total against a big Kalaheo block led by 6-6 Tyler Caswell.
The Lunas (6-4) hadn't been to the state tourney in 23 years, but even within the MIL, they fell to D-II powers Hana, Seabury Hall and Molokai. The notion of Lahainaluna, even with a small enrollment, dropping down to D-II may not be a good one, Akina said.
The Lunas will play Waiakea tonight at Punahou in a consolation match. Match time is 6 p.m.
Kalaheo got two early aces from Wong and opened the match with an 8-0 run and never looked back.
Game 2 was more Mustang domination. Wong delivered two more aces as Kalaheo zoomed to a 9-2 lead. Lahainaluna got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
Punahou 2, Waiakea 0
The top-seeded Buffanblu made it look surprisingly easy against the Warriors with a 25-17, 25-11 sweep.
"They're better than I expected," Waiakea coach Ecko Osorio said. "Their block is awesome. We knew we had to serve tough, and we didn't get it done."
Spencer McLachlin led Punahou (19-0) with six kills as setter Riley McKibbin fed his hungry teammates near and far. McLachlin, a 6-foot-7 senior, drew plenty of attention.
"With Spencer, we can run complicated stuff, but they sent two blockers to him, so our middles on the other side got no one," said McKibbin, who finished with five kills and 13 assists. "The defense has to pick its poison. We're a very cohesive unit right now."
Waiakea (16-2), the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up, was fairly close at 12-9 in Game 1, but the firepower of McLachlin sparked a 5-1 run as the Buffanblu won going away.
The visiting Warriors were within 11-7 in Game 2, but Punahou responded with an 8-0 run to put the game and match out of reach.
Clayton Morante Jr. led the Warriors with nine kills.
"Waiakea's kids were awesome. They had us in a few rallies in the first game, kids diving on the floor, scrapping for everything," Punahou coach Peter Balding said. "A team coached by Ecko Osorio will always play with heart."
Punahou has not played its semifinal foe, Kalaheo, at all this year.
"Kalaheo's a big team. It's gonna be fun," McLachlin said.
Balding is, as usual, quite cautious.
"We have our hands full. They're big. They hit and serve well," he said. "They match up better with us than Waiakea."