Punahou wins with passion
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In Jim Iams' eyes, Punahou played together last night.
More than that, the Buffanblu played with fire.
"Passion is a huge part of it," senior libero Sydney Yogi said. "You can play with a clear mind, but if your heart isn't into it, any team can beat you."
The Buffanblu girls volleyball team used myriad weapons and plenty of passion to overwhelm Word of Life 25-16, 25-10 last night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.
Third-ranked Punahou remained alive and well in the hunt for the first-round title in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. The Buffanblu are chasing front-running Iolani and taking their win-or-fade situation one match at a time.
"We played as a team," Iams said. "Our serving, our passing, we did whatever it took, every single player."
If Punahou runs the table in first-round play, including a win over Iolani, there could be a three-way tie for first place.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Juliana Behrens, middle, and Anuhea Keanini blocked a kill attempt by Word of Life's Chanteal Satele yesterday at Punahou's Hemmeter Field House.
The look in LeeAnn Satele's eyes after the match said it all.
Now, if her Word of Life team can just emulate their coach's hunger, there might be better nights for the talented Firebrands.
Third-ranked Punahou used a balanced attack to douse Word of Life 25-16, 25-10 last night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse. Punahou improved to 10-1 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play.
Diana Hiromoto pounded seven kills and Charlotte Fonua slammed six kills to lead the Buffanblu.
Senior Chanteal Satele led WLA with eight kills, but there was little fire in her team.
"The pit of my stomach was tight the whole time," Punahou coach Jim Iams said. "I know what they're capable of. There is a lot of talent on that team."
Word of Life (5-5) will compete for the league's Division II championship, but the loss gave Hawaii Baptist the inside track to the D-II first-round title and automatic state berth.
Satele was flabbergasted by one missing ingredient.
"They practiced so well, so intense," she said. "Then we have a hard time bringing our intensity to the match. We need to bring our best."
Punahou also got solid play from Anuhea Keanini, who had four kills and two service aces. As a team, the Buffanblu amassed six aces with just two service errors to keep Word of Life on its heels much of the night.
"Punahou was steady. They don't make mistakes," LeeAnn Satele said.
Word of Life gave a lot of points away on hitting, serving and passing errors: 13 errors in the first game and 14 in the second.
"We just have to keep working on it," Chanteal Satele said. "Our best match was against Kamehameha (last week) even though we lost. We had passion."
The Firebrands led briefly in the opening game at 3-2 before the home team went on a 12-3 run. Punahou setter Pihana Kea's even distribution thwarted the WLA block; Hiromoto had four kills, while Fonua (three), Keanini (two) and middle blocker Juliana Behrens (two) provided balance.
Word of Life got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Game 2 was tighter thanks to a block by Satele and a kill by Crystal Powell that brought the Firebrands within 6-5.
However, consecutive roofs by Behrens and Fonua sparked a 12-1 blitz by the Buffanblu. A pair of aces by Courtney Lelepali and consistent stops by libero Sydney Yogi extended the run. After Hiromoto's final kill, Punahou led 18-6.
"Word of Life is a good team, but we served and passed pretty well," Yogi said. "We worked our middles and connected well."
Punahou travels to Hanalani tomorrow and then will host St. Francis on Saturday.
"Our goal is to go undefeated with these next matches before we play Iolani," Iams said, noting the possibility of a three-way tie among the top Division I schools for the ILH lead at the end of the first round.
Word of Life, meanwhile, visits No. 7 Sacred Hearts tomorrow.
"I don't know which team we were out there. We're fighting ourselves," LeeAnn Satele said. "But that's why we're the coaches. We go back to the gym and work it out."