HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Roosevelt's Kainoa Mitchell beat Farrington's Lance Kinningham for a kill yesterday.
Unbeaten Roosevelt sweeps Kalaheo, Farrington
For many years under coach Kaui Mendonca, the Roosevelt Rough Riders were the boys volleyball version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Those days are gone. Now the Big Bad Wolf of the OIA Red East, No. 3 Roosevelt got dominant performances from 6-foot-2 Kaina Palama and 6-6 Kenneth Rewick en route to a 25-18, 25-20 sweep of Kalaheo last night.
Palama, the lone senior, pounded 13 kills with just three hitting errors to lead the way. Rewick, a transfer from Maryknoll, added eight kills and a service ace, and setter Joby Ramos had 20 assists.
Roosevelt, which improved to 8-0 in league play, was stellar in every facet of the game -- an about-face for a team that has gone through ups and downs while getting acquainted. Three of the six starters are transfers.
"We're used to having smaller guys and just scrapping all the time," said Mendonca, now in his 15th season. "They're getting used to each other, starting to get happy for each other."
A raucous crowd at Roosevelt's gym had plenty to be happy about, too.
"It was a home game, we were psyched," Ramos said. "The home crowd gives us lots of support."
Kalaheo (6-3), which dispatched Farrington in an earlier match yesterday, could have established an edge in serving. However, the Mustangs had eight service errors in the first game as Roosevelt won going away.
"We wanted to attack with our serves, but we couldn't, and that's what turned around the first game," Kalaheo coach Gavin Cook said. "Against a team like Roosevelt, you can't do that. It got a little contagious."
Kalaheo setter Christian Kepa, who had six jump-serve aces against Farrington, had none against the Rough Riders.
"They got tentative, so they didn't give us that bomb kind of serve," Mendonca said.
The Mustangs settled down in the second game and took a 7-5 lead on Kepa's roof of Rewick, but couldn't pull away.
Roosevelt stayed close with Palama's surgical attack from left and right, and Aaron Mochizuki's kill over the middle gave the Rough Riders a 19-18 lead.
Ramos, a 5-8 sophomore, then drilled a kill from the back row on a set from Kainoa Mitchell, and followed that with a service ace.
Kalaheo pulled to within 21-20, but Roosevelt got kills from Mitchell and Rewick -- the latter on a volley from the back row -- for a 23-20 lead. After a Kalaheo hitting error, Palama put the match away with his 13th kill of the night.
"I thought we played a good game against a really good team," Cook said. "It's the best team we've played so far. Kenji (Rewick) is definitely a college prospect."
D.J. Chang had five kills to lead Kalaheo. Kepa added four kills and six assists, while Shawn Hipa and Giovanni Wozniak hustled for three kills apiece.
Mendonca, wary about hype and expectations, was willing to admit that this is his most talented team in 15 seasons.
"I tell the team, going to the playoffs, you go in with a clean slate," he said. "You can lose and you're out. We could go unbeaten, but we want to win by doing the right things. Not just on talent."
Roosevelt 2, Farrington 0
Palama put down 11 kills, while Ramos had five kills and 17 assists to lead the Rough Riders over the Governors 25-12, 25-15. Ky Kano had two of Roosevelt's four aces, while Mitchell and Mochizuki added four kills each.
Daniel Vaina led Farrington (4-6) with three kills.
Kalaheo 2, Farrington 0
Pono Wong had eight kills and four aces as the Mustangs topped the Govs 25-14, 26-24. Kepa added five kills, 18 assists and six aces. Chang had five kills.
Junior Lavatai led Farrington with four kills.
Iolani def. Word of Life 25-4, 25-5
Punahou def. Maryknoll 25-14, 25-14
Damien def. Hanalani 25-13, 25-13
Mid-Pacific def. University 25-22, 25-15
Kahuku def. Campbell 25-19, 25-23
Kahuku def. Nanakuli 21-25, 25-19, 25-20