No. 3 Red Raiders spike McKinley
Chad Giesseman knows how to extract maximum effort from his McKinley Tigers.
Even with a good performance, however, they were no match for No. 3-ranked Kahuku. Nile Teo drilled nine aces and Elizabeth Blake added five more as the Red Raiders tamed the Tigers 25-22, 25-18, 25-16 last night before 300 fans in sultry McKinley Student Council Gym.
"Now we're playing more like a team," Teo said.
Kahuku is 7-0 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East after using a bombardment of perfectly placed serves to pull away from the host Tigers.
"I hesitate to say they're serving at the college level, but they're definitely good at the high school level," Kahuku coach Uila Fotu Vendiola said.
Blake, only a sophomore, also dished out 20 assists and had three kills. Kahuku, which hit .329, finished with 17 aces and just six service errors.
Juri Franzen and Angela Sooalo led McKinley (4-3) with seven kills each. The Tigers hit .197 against Kahuku's big block, but were right in the match until the visitors went on big runs at the end of the first two games.
"Kahuku is strong. Even their bench could start for most teams," Giesseman said. "With what I have available, we're 4-3 and I couldn't be happier. When we get some of our starters back, it should be interesting."
In the opening game, McKinley hit .450, had three aces and only one service error. Kahuku's depth, however, proved vital. Jovan Falemalu had a kill and an ace, and Blake landed two more aces as Kahuku went on an 8-2 run for a 17-10 lead.
The Tigers benefited from a rash of Kahuku hitting errors to pull within 21-19, but got no closer.
McKinley had the lead for a good stretch of the Set 2. Teri Loli's kill over the middle kept the Tigers ahead 13-12.
However, Falemalu, a 5-foot-8 middle blocker, put down a kill, and Candace Tufuga hammered one of her five kills to give Kahuku a 14-13 lead.
McKinley tied the game four more times before Tajana Santiago roofed Sooalo and Teo pierced an ace next to the right sideline to give Kahuku a 20-17 lead.
Teo's string of five consecutive aces boosted the Red Raiders to a 24-17 lead and a 2-0 lead in the match.
"I was just trying to pick up the momentum for our team," said Teo, who uses a jump serve and had only two service errors. "We have areas we work on at practice."
Kahuku sent in several reserves in the third set and McKinley took advantage. Aces by Sooalo and Larissa Tawata pushed the Tigers ahead 16-12.
Fotu Vendiola then inserted Blake back in, and it was all Big Red from there. Blake immediately delivered a kill, then another ace as her team went on a 13-0 run to close out the match.
"I'm pleased with our consistency, even after we put in our subs," Fotu Vendiola said. "I'm happy with our ball control. We were able to play defense. Record-wise, I'm happy. We're starting to come together, but as a coach, you're never really satisfied. There's still a lot of things we can work on."
The Red Raiders will host Kalaheo on Tuesday, while McKinley will face Roosevelt.
Giesseman hopes outside hitter Brenda Walker will return within a week or two. Walker suffered a fractured ankle during a basketball tournament in California in the offseason.
"The inexperience shows. We've only got one true starter from last year's team," he said. "I still haven't found someone to be the libero, to play with that mentality, and for my teams, that's always the most important spot."