Kamehameha-Iolani in battle of unbeatens tonight
The highest nationally-ranked team in Hawaii doesn't practice in Manoa.
The Kamehameha Warriors are No. 3 in the nation, according to PrepVolleyball.com
"It's one person's opinion about how we're doing," Warriors coach Chris Blake said. "It adds fuel to the fire for other teams that play us. Everybody has their best match against us. It's bulletin board material."
Kamehameha, voted No. 1 in today's Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10, won't win on reputation alone, of course. When the Warriors (7-0) load up the bus and cross town today, all that will matter is a showdown with the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's only other unbeaten team, Iolani (7-0).
Kamehameha and Iolani have been voted No. 1 and No. 2 by coaches and media since the first week of the season. The Raiders, under Jenic Tumaneng, are 6-0 and aiming for sole control of the top spot.
Iolani middle hitter Chelsea Hardin is sandwiched by outside hitters Lauren Minkel and Leilani Keanini.
"Hardin's a real dynamic, athletic player. Minkel and Keanini are great outsides, four-year players who are leaders of that team," Blake said. "They'll be fired up and ready to defend their home court.
Two seasons ago, when Megan Burton was in the middle for Iolani, the Raiders hosted Kamehameha and upset the Warriors. Kamehameha went on to win the first of their back-to-back state titles. This year, Kamehameha has already won the Ann Kang Invitational title in Iolani's gym.
"It's always a challenge for us, a great challenge to be in a great volleyball atmosphere. When it's packed, the girls relish the challenge," said Blake, who coached at Iolani before returning to Kamehameha, his alma mater. "Iolani's a good team, a very talented team and well coached. It's a matter of execution.
Kahuku proved its mettle last week with big wins over Roosevelt and Moanalua. The Lady Raiders, who rose two notches to No. 4, are 6-0 and lead the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East.
Perennial Big Island powerhouse Kamehameha-Hawaii moved into the poll at No. 10. The Warriors displaced Hawaii Baptist, which dropped out after a loss to Punahou.