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'Iolani eases past MPI


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POSTED: Friday, April 24, 2009

If Hawaii Baptist handed the 'Iolani boys volleyball team any motivation for the rest of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season by besting the then-top-ranked Raiders a week ago, then the Mid-Pacific boys took the brunt of that frustration in a best-of-five regular-season match yesterday.

The No. 3-ranked Raiders fumbled away the first game yesterday, but then cruised to a 24-26, 25-14, 25-18, 25-15 victory at MPI. The win improved 'Iolani's record to 12-2, while the 10th-ranked Owls dropped their third straight and fell to 5-6 overall.

“;It's just how we start the game, just mentally unprepared,”; said senior outside hitter Nick Christman. “;We lose a couple of points, and we start to freeze up a little bit. I could feel it myself, and everyone else probably could, too. We'll bounce back, though.”;

'Iolani bounced back to make the last three games runaways, but it appeared like it would be a tightly contested match after the Raiders threw away the first game. Standing on the verge of a first-game victory with a 24-21 lead, Mid-Pac senior Ryan Dunham stunned the Raiders as he took over the game.

The hard-hitting lefty, hitting primarily from the right side, powered a kill down the line to make it 24-22. He stuffed 'Iolani's David Fink one-on-one to make it 24-23. After Fink's next swing put the ball into the net to knot the score at 25, Dunham slammed the ball off the block to give MPI game point. And as Taylor Donovan's spike fell weakly into the net, the Owls earned an improbable first-game victory.

The opening-game loss gave 'Iolani a much-needed wake-up call.

“;It got kind of nuts on the bench,”; Donovan said. “;But after that, the guys just came together. We were motivated.”;

But 'Iolani showed off its depth and its stellar serving over the next three games to pull away for the easy victory.

Junior Tyler Tanaka—last year's starting middle hitter who has since moved to outside hitter, spent the first game as a line judge—but he started the second game with two stuffed blocks and two kills. Sophomore Colin Tseng came off the bench to serve, and his tough floater led to two aces and a number of poor MPI passes.

Those two helped spark what became an 'Iolani rout.

“;We had to shuffle guys in and out and try to find the right combination,”; said 'Iolani coach Mike Among. “;... I just told them. It's a long match. Three-out-of-five is a different animal, and you've just got to play steady all the way through.”;