Warriors stunned by Raiders
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Moments before their biggest match of the season, the Iolani Raiders could hardly wait to get their shot at No. 1 Kamehameha.
"Our whole senior class was here with signs," outside hitter Leinani Keanini said.
"In the lockerroom during pregame, they really wanted to get on the floor, so I knew they had a lot of adrenaline," Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng said.
"The game pace was too fast. We weren't getting in rhythm."
Eventually, though, Iolani found its groove and stunned the visiting Warriors 22-25, 25-21, 25-19.
Keanini had 13 kills and teammate Lauren Minkel added 10 for the second-ranked Raiders, who improved to 8-0.
"Iolani played their best match all season," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said.
Jordan Meredith and Bekah Torres led the Warriors with nine kills each.
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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani's Leinani Keanini beat Kamehameha's Tatiana Santiago for one of her 13 kills last night.
After the jitters cleared out, the Iolani Raiders fell back on some special preparation for No. 1-ranked Kamehameha.
Video study and coach Jenic Tumaneng's on-court work at practice proved to be factors as Iolani rallied for a 22-25, 25-21, 25-19 upset of the Warriors last night to claim sole possession of first place in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Leinani Keanini and Lauren Minkel combined for 23 kills as second-ranked Iolani improved to 8-0 before a raucous home crowd of about 1,000.
The Raiders used Tumaneng as their Kanani Herring model during practice, and Keanini benefited from scouting video provided by Iolani's coaching staff.
"I just knew from the video to aim for the line shot," said Keanini, who pounded a match-high 13 kills. She also had two of her team's five aces.
"Our destiny is out of our hands now," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. Iolani can claim an automatic state berth by winning the first round.
Jordan Meredith and Bekah Torres pounded nine kills to lead Kamehameha (7-1). Tati Santiago had 29 assists and four kills, while Herring was hounded all night by Iolani middles Chelsea Hardin (5-foot-11), Alissa Youart (5-11) and Mahina Haina (5-11). Herring, the two-time Star-Bulletin player of the year, finished with six kills and two blocks on a night that belonged to Iolani.
Minkel was part of the last Iolani team that beat Kamehameha back in 2005. "It helps boost our confidence. We had a shaky preseason, but after we won the second game, I could feel it," she said. "We got all the nerves out. We were clicking."
Mali'e Yoon had 30 assists, and Minkel finished with 10 kills and three blocks as the Raiders' height and hustle left the visitors out of sync during key runs.
Once the Raiders got in a groove, they were surprisingly effective against the nation's No. 3-ranked team. In the final set, Kamehameha committed four hitting errors, three service errors and one crossing violation.
In the opening game, the Warriors used a 9-3 run to take control. Alex Akana had one of her three blocks as they zoomed to a 19-13 lead. Iolani rallied within 21-20 after a pair of Kamehameha hitting errors, but Torres came through with a couple of kills over the middle. After Santiago tipped over a dink shot, the Warriors led 24-21, and Meredith ended the set a moment later with a kill from the back row.
Keanini led the Raiders in the second set, pounding four kills and both of her aces. Iolani's 6-0 run, including an ace by Risa Kaawa, turned the game around. An ace by Keanini gave the Raiders a 22-17 lead as they went on to even the match.
Keanini added five more kills in the final set, rising to pound kills down the line -- sometimes without a challenge at the net.
Haina's serving proved to be a turning point. She drilled back-to-back aces during a key run for Iolani, which surged to a 12-8 lead. Kamehameha rallied to tie the set at 17 on a kill by Meredith, but unforced errors did the visitors in.
Six of Iolani's next seven points came on Kamehameha mistakes, and Keanini ended the match with another kill down the left side.
"Iolani played their best match all season," Blake said. "They passed well, they blocked well. Our team didn't execute. Iolani forced us into a lot of bad plays."
The two teams could meet again in the second round, which is a tournament format. In all, three teams will represent the ILH at the state championships on the Big Island.