HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
HILO » They sure picked a fine time to play their best volleyball.
The top-seeded Kamehameha Warriors rose to a new level, conquering nemesis Iolani 25-18, 25-19 last night in the final of the 39th annual New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships.
At Hilo Civic Auditorium
» Consolation championship: Mililani def. Waiakea 25-16, 25-20
» Fifth place: Roosevelt def. Moanalua 25-22, 25-19
» Third place: Punahou def. Kahuku 25-21, 25-20
» Championship: Kamehameha def. Iolani 25-18, 25-19
» Most Outstanding Player: Kanani Herring, Kamehameha
» Caitlin Andrade, Kamehameha
» Kaleinani Kabalis, Moanalua
» Anuhea Keanini, Punahou
» Leinani Keanini, Iolani
» Jordan Meredith, Kamehameha
» Bekah Torres, Kamehameha
» Sydney Yogi, Punahou
A frenzied crowd of about 2,300 at Afook-Chinen Hilo Civic Auditorium watched Kamehameha (22-1) capture its third state crown in a row. The Warriors did it against their toughest rival from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, a young, but promising Iolani squad that had won an early-season battle between the powerhouses.
Kanani Herring led the way for Kamehameha with 13 kills (.500) and 13 digs, both match highs. Bekah Torres and Jordan Meredith added six kills each and boosted the Warriors' potent serve. Iolani struggled with its passing game as a result and hit just .111, its toughest night after three easy tourney wins.
Caitlin Andrade was near flawless with 27 assists, while libero Cassidee Young, opposite Tati Santiago and middle Alex Akana added value as complementary parts to the Warriors' 13th state championship.
"The thing that's special about this group, they did their very best to play for each other," said Kamehameha coach Chris Blake, smiling and holding back tears. "We wanted to play our best match at the end of the season, to peak here. All of our eight seniors contributed to this win and did every little thing to make this happen."
Iolani was the only team to beat Kamehameha this season. The Raiders struggled last night, though, as did every team that faced Kamehameha. Chelsea Hardin led Iolani (19-3) with six kills and Mahina Haina added five (.714).
The Warriors started the match with a 7-3 run, but Iolani pulled within 12-10 after a kill by Hardin. Kamehameha then opened the game up with a 6-1 run, including an ace by Andrade. Iolani got no closer than five the rest of the way.
Game 2 was a switcheroo of sorts as Iolani tried to find a way to slow Herring down.
"They were flipping things around, so all our blocking assignments had to change," Blake said.
The Raiders were within 14-11 after a kill by Haina, but the Warriors responded with a kill by Herring on a step-out play. Kamehameha opened the lead to 19-11, but Iolani rallied to within two as Hardin came up with two kills in traffic, as well as a block of Meredith.
But with the game at 19-17, Meredith and Torres delivered kills, and errors by Iolani allowed the Warriors to get away for the sweep.
"We held our own, and on a given night, we could've won. Kamehameha played well, and we didn't give them the great match that we wanted," Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng said. "Our team kept scrapping, trying to get into a rhythm. That's why I love this team. There's great team effort.
"I want our team, the seniors and the underclassmen, to remember the good memories," Tumaneng said. "Our losses were to the No. 5 team in the country."
For Kamehameha, a team loaded with future college players, there was no room for individualism and plenty of space for team chemistry.
The Warriors, above all, were as mature a team as any to hit the hardwood.
"This year, we got a greater impact from everyone," said Herring, who will suit up for Hawaii next season. The high-flying senior deflected individual praise all season long.
"It's not just me. It was everyone, every single person. We had big team spirit from everyone, and we know how to pull it together through ups and downs. We have our meetings and leave it off the court."
Torres, the versatile 5-foot-10 senior, is also one of the seniors who have experienced three state titles. This time, though, she cried like a baby with Meredith on the bench as the trophy presentation began.
"Those are tears of joy, trust me, probably because I'm a senior. I'm not gonna experience this again," said Torres.