FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha's Nate Loyola hit against Hawaii Baptist's Nathan Le during last night's match. The Warriors won 25-18. 25-23.
Kamehameha nudges past HBA
In the volleyball galaxy, Kamehameha has usually been a big fish and Hawaii Baptist is, well, a little fish.
The sixth-ranked Warriors needed every inch and iota of effort, however, to scrape past the Eagles 25-18, 25-23 yesterday at HBA's gym.
Kamehameha improved to 4-1 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu thanks to a balanced attack. The spark for the big fish came from junior Kahale Morgan, who had five kills, two blocks and 11 assists. Built like a defensive specialist, Morgan's phenomenal vertical leap and array of skills made him effective anywhere he went.
Clifton Asuncion led the Warriors with 10 kills and added two blocks, while Isaiah Peroff tallied five kills and Kai Hamakua had three. Freshman Micah Christenson had 16 assists and two kills.
It was Kahale, though, who was often in the middle of the action. "He's one of the best players in the league, the way he can manipulate the ball," HBA coach Teoni Obrey said. "He's able to pass, set, and he's a capable attacker. He's able to see the whole block well."
Obrey noted that the visitors rode waves of emotion quite well, but Kamehameha coach Guy Kaniho is trying to set his young team's sights on consistency. That was the theme of at least one Warriors timeout.
"We don't play on emotion. That's a two-headed thing and when you're hot, you're hot, and when you're cold, you're cold," Kaniho said. "We try to concentrate on fundamentals and play good transition volleyball."
Ryan Leung finished with eight kills and Branden Kaneshiro added seven for the home team, which has just two seniors. The visitors, as Kaniho said, lit up the scoreboard in transition.
"They took advantage when our setter (Matthew Lui) was in the front row," Obrey said. "But we feel that's our best rotation, with Kyle (Barretta), Lui and Ryan in front."
Lui tallied 17 assists for No. 9 HBA (3-3), which has a match against Mid-Pacific before the league shifts into second-round, inter-division play. HBA's matches will be against fellow Division II teams Hanalani, University and Word of Life.
"We really wanted to prove that D-II teams can play with the D-I guys," Obrey said. "Sometimes the boys try too much to make spectacular plays when the simple play would work. It's a big mental hurdle for our boys."
HBA struggled against Kamehameha's block early. Morgan had two of his team's three roofs as the Warriors seized a 6-1 lead.
The Eagles rallied to tie take a 14-13 lead after Kamehameha committed three errors in a row. However, Peroff pounded a couple of kills to spark a 12-3 run by the visitors to close out the set.
Kamehameha, which had six hitting errors in the first game, committed four more early in the second. That allowed HBA, which got four quick kills from Kaneshiro, to take a 13-10 lead.
HBA still led 20-17 after West Hatae's kill, but mistakes cost the Eagles dearly. Peroff tied the game at 22 with his fifth kill, and Asuncion gave the Warriors a 24-23 lead with another slam. Asuncion's 10th kill ended the match.
"They're well-coached. A lot of their guys are utility players, so that makes it tougher," Kaniho said. "We stuck to our game plan. We needed to seal our blocks a little more. Fortunately, we were able to make a couple of stops."