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Punahou pounds 'Iolani in rematch


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POSTED: Sunday, March 29, 2009

It was one of those good news, bad news games for 'Iolani coach Mike Among.

“;The bad news was, we just got worked,”; Among told his defending state champions. “;The good news is, it didn't count (in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu standings). We got time to get back in the gym and improve.”;

Punahou dominated the Raiders in the title game of the Hawaii Boys Volleyball Invitational yesterday with a 25-22, 25-12 victory in 'Iolani's gym. The two rivals ('Iolani is ranked No. 1 and Punahou No. 2) will have a chance to inflict real damage when they meet in ILH action on April 9.

They last met in last year's state championship, which the Raiders won behind the arm of departed state player of the year Brad Lawson. Though the stakes couldn't compare in this title game, it was sweet payback nonetheless for the Buffanblu. They, like the Raiders, came into the spring break tourney unbeaten through five games of league play.

There was no Lawson for Punahou to worry about this time. Behind a balanced and unrelenting attack, the Buffanblu wore down 'Iolani with seven kills apiece from Maddison McKibbin, Josh Taylor and Henry Cassiday. Middle hitter Ben Lam added timely and demoralizing blasts up the center when the Raiders managed to defend around the pins.

“;They're definitely a really good team, and it was definitely our time for payback,”; said McKibbin, a 6-5 senior who added 13 assists. “;They play really well as a team, but I thought our team pulled together.”;

In Punahou's 6-2 offense, McKibbin and Taylor Crabb (12 assists) alternate setting from the back row, keeping three dangerous hitters up front at all times.

“;We feel like we have three or four real solid attackers in every rotation that teams have to pay attention to,”; said Punahou coach Rick Tune, who wasn't satisfied with the display. “;Right now our offense is sputtering a bit. It's definitely not as crisp and as solid as we need it to be.”;

With a lull in ILH play over the break, the familiar foes earned the right to do battle in the nine-team tourney. 'Iolani and Punahou played evenly over most of Game 1—they were tied at 22—before Cassiday smacked a shot crosscourt to cap a 4-1 spurt to take the frame.

Game 2 was all Buffanblu. Last year's runners-up took control of an 11-all game and went on a 14-1 run to close it out. Blasts rained down from all angles and the tournament hosts had no answer.

“;They got into a groove, and it was almost like a heavyweight fight where you take a couple of shots and are staggered,”; said Among, who picked the versatile McKibbin as his unofficial tourney MVP. “;Tried to make subs, tried to call a timeout, but they just kept rolling.”;

Taylor Donovan led the Raiders with six kills, while Logan Nowack assisted on 18 points.