Kamehameha expects a challenge for the top spot in the state
On paper, the nation's fifth-best team seemed to struggle in week one of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season.
In reality, the Kamehameha Warriors are handling some nagging injuries and fatigue as best they can. That's why all eight voters in the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10 continue to write the Warriors into their No. 1 slots.
The Warriors, ranked No. 5 by PrepVolleyball.com, swept University and needed three games to get past No. 7 Sacred Hearts. The Lancers bounced back from a rough opening set to beat the Warriors in game two.
"We played sub-par and they played better than they did in the first game. It looked like they got a lot more confidence. We made a good run at the beginning of game three to get the win," Blake said.
"Sacred Hearts is a good team. University is gonna do well in Division II. Brennen Clark is a force, a terminator for their team. Word of Life is gonna be real tough in Division II. With Chanteal (Satele) and (Crystal) Powell, they're gonna be a tough team," Blake added.
The Warriors visit La Pietra and new coach John Ehia today.
"They are real big, they have good size. We're going to try and put them in bad spots and limit their block," Blake said. "He's got a bunch of good kids who play club."
After this week's journey, the road gets tougher for the Warriors. Third-ranked Punahou, No. 10 HBA and No. 2 Iolani wait in succession.
Two-time Star-Bulletin player of the year Kanani Herring played sparingly against University and sat out against SHA.
"She's had a long summer. She's gone a whole year without really resting," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said of the UH-bound senior. Herring played with the national team in the World Youth Games at Mexico a month ago. She probably won't suit up this week when the Warriors face three more opponents.
Also, All-State selection Bekah Torres isn't 100 percent.
"Bekah's been banged up a little bit, in and out of practice," Blake added.
Setters Tati Santiago and Caitlin Andrade are taking turns on the sideline.
"Tati just got back from the thumb injury, but our other setter (Andrade) got sick," Blake said.
Libero Cassidee Young is also nursing some minor injuries.
There won't be any tears shed for the Goliath of Hawaii prep volleyball, even if the road to a third state title seems more challenging this season.
"Last year, in the beginning of the season, we were a lot more healthy. The Ann Kang tourney, it took a lot out of us. We really haven't had everybody together to practice yet," Blake said. "As a coaching staff, it's been tough to gain continuity, but the girls are stepping up their game and pulling forward."
The rest of the league, arguably the best in the state, has also stepped up.