HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Word of Life's Janna Kaopuiki tried to block a shot by Seabury Hall's Kaipo Rocha in the first game of yesterday's Division II semifinal at McKinley High. Seabury Hall advanced to face Hawaii Baptist.
State champs crowned
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It was a busy day around the island chain in high school sports, with state championships decided in bowling and cross country yesterday, while the final pairings were set for today's state title matchups in Division I and II volleyball.
The cross country champions were decided on Maui, where the Leilehua boys and the Punahou girls emerged victorious. Leilehua had the top two finishers for the boys to finish first with 37 points. Bryce Jenkins was the first runner to cross the finish line for the Mules in a winning time of 16:07.95, beating teammate and second-place finisher Paul Williams by a healthy 30 seconds. The girls individual winner was Mililani sophomore Kristin Ali Keith, who had a winning time of 19:31.55, beating Haley Abing of La Pietra by 10 seconds.
Mililani captured the girls championship in bowling and Kalani's Dara Ajimine won the individual title with 1,747 pins. The boys individual champion was Justin Kanda of Roosevelt with 1,817 pins. Hawaii Baptist Academy was the team champion.
The finals are set in volleyball, with top seed Kamehameha facing ILH rival Iolani in Division I and top seed Hawaii Baptist facing No. 2 seed Seabury Hall of Maui in Division II.
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D-I final an ILH rematch
HILO » As visitors to the Big Island, the Kamehameha Warriors know all about superior service.
Division I Schedule
At Hilo Civic Auditorium
Match 10: Mililani def. Kalani 25-17, 25-18
11: Roosevelt def. Kamehameha-Hawaii, 25-12, 25-23
12: Moanalua def. Kamehameha-Maui, 26-24, 25-13
13: Kamehameha def. Kahuku 25-20, 25-16
14: Iolani def. Punahou 25-18, 25-18
Consolation championship: Waiakea vs. Mililani, 3 p.m.
Fifth place: Roosevelt vs. Moanalua, 4:30 p.m.
Third place: Kahuku vs. Punahou, 6 p.m.
Championship: Kamehameha vs. Iolani, 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors served up eight aces, while Kanani Herring pounded nine kills and Bekah Torres added eight in a 25-20, 25-16 sweep of Kahuku last night in the semifinals of the 39th annual New City Nissan Girls Volleyball State Championships.
A raucous gathering of about 1,500 at Afook-Chinen Hilo Civic Auditorium saw the two-time state champions disarm the powerful Lady Raiders with superior serving. Tati Santiago had a match-high three aces, while Torres and Cassidee Young added two apiece.
"Tati and Cassidee were on it," said Herring, who is bound for the University of Hawaii next season.
Kamehameha (21-1) will face Interscholastic League of Honolulu nemesis Iolani (19-2) in today's final.
Kahuku (14-4), the runner-up from the Oahu Interscholastic Association, played well in spurts, but suffered a litany of sporadic passes and lifts as a result of Kamehameha's serve.
"Overall, this was our best effort, but we had little tweaks here and there," senior Leilani Tafuna said. "Our team gave it their all. Kamehameha is really elite. We're not surprised they played the way they did."
Tafuna led Kahuku with six kills (.263) and had six digs. Alayna Galeai added four kills and Nile Te'o had six digs. The Lady Raiders hit .176. Kamehameha hit a little better at .239.
The deeper Warriors got six kills and five digs from Jordan Meredith, while Santiago had a team-high eight digs. Caitlin Andrade had a near-flawless performance at setter with 27 assists plus four digs.
Kamehameha had a chance to make the match a rout, but hitting errors allowed the Lady Raiders to rally.
"We didn't have the killer instinct. We had a chance to step on their throats," coach Chris Blake said. "But Kahuku is a great team and they know how to fire back."
Five aces helped Kamehameha take a 16-5 lead in the opening game. Kahuku responded with firepower from Galeai and went on a 14-3 run to pull within 20-19.
"We were doing good at the beginning. Kahuku did a nice job of doing their digs and keeping the play on," Herring said.
Kahuku's rally gave their boisterous following of fans, plus a statewide TV audience, thoughts of a potential classic in the making. It wasn't meant to be.
Alex Akana's first kill of the match halted Kahuku's momentum as the Warriors closed out the first game with a 5-1 blitz. Torres had two kills down the stretch, including a step-out slam to end it.
Game 2 was close for a short while, but Kahuku errors allowed Kamehameha to turn a one-point game into a 14-8 lead. The Lady Raiders got no closer than five the rest of the way.
"Coach said go up there, dominate the court and play together," Meredith said.
That they did. The Warriors are now one win away from netting another reward for all their service.
Iolani 2, Punahou 0
The Raiders advanced to the title match by stifling the Buffanblu 25-18, 25-18. Iolani, the second-place team from the ILH, won its fourth match in four tries since preseason against its rival.
Leinani Keanini led Iolani (19-2) with nine kills. Mahina Haina had seven kills and Chelsea Hardin added five to give the Raiders an edge at the middle. Jana Tokuhama anchored the back row with 16 digs, while Minkel added 10 digs.
Anuhea Keanini, sister of Leinani, paced Punahou (17-4) with eight kills and added seven digs. Diana Hiramoto (12 digs) and libero Sydney Yogi (19 digs) kept the Buffanblu in the match with great defense, but as a team, they hit just .041 against Iolani's big block.
"We knew defense would play a big part in this. Iolani played smart and came out really aggressive," Yogi said. "They're more of a smart-shot team. Yeah, they have some new plays."
Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng wouldn't deny that his team has added new wrinkles lately.
"A lot of it is more about Malie coming around," he said of Malie Yoon, his sophomore setter. She finished with 22 assists and five digs. "At midseason, we gave her the say in terms of where the ball's going, so now there's no miscommunication with her hitters."
Punahou stayed close in Game 1 and pulled within 18-15 before Iolani scored five points in a row, including a pair of kills by Leinani Keanini.
The Raiders jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the second game and were in control despite a number of rallies that were among the best so far in the tournament.
Now all that stands between Iolani and a state title is mighty Kamehameha.
"They're ready," Tumaneng said of his team, which split two ILH matches with the Warriors. "They've been looking forward to meeting Kamehameha again."
Leinani Keanini said the loss to Kamehameha during the ILH tournament boiled down to two elements.
"It was ball-handling and a lack of aggressiveness at the net," the senior said. "We'll work on it tomorrow."
Hardin, the athletic middle/ outside hitter, knows the nationally-ranked Warriors will be ready.
"You don't know where they'll set. It's difficult on the blocks," she said. "Especially with them, we have to close out the rallies quicker."