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No. 2 Punahou puts down No. 3 'Iolani


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POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009

After stewing for the past three weeks on a frustrating home loss to rival 'Iolani, the Punahou boys volleyball team got its payback, as the Buffanblu routed the Raiders 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 on 'Iolani's senior night yesterday.

“;Overall, that loss was probably the best thing to ever happen to us,”; said Punahou coach Rick Tune. “;It lit a real fire.”;

'Iolani, the third-ranked team in the state, took the brunt of that fire as Punahou's hard-hitting offense took control of the match early and never let up. The No. 2-ranked Buffanblu never trailed in the first set, erased the Raiders' early five-point lead in the second set and scored 11 of the last 15 points to win the third set and the match.

“;That loss really gave us a wake-up call, and we're just working a lot harder than before,”; junior Taylor Crabb said.

In the three weeks since the loss, Punahou has reconfigured its offense. Before, the Buffanblu were running a 6-2, an offense with two setters to give the team three front-row hitters at all times. With senior Maddison McKibbin and Crabb sharing setting duties, the team had been successful against most opponents.

But 'Iolani stunned Punahou in that last matchup, and since then, Tune's offense is now a 5-1 with just one setter and five hitters. That gives McKibbin, a 6-foot-6 lefty headed to USC next season, more swings, while the other hitters can get used to more consistent sets since they are coming from just one player.

The change has paid off. McKibbin finished with 10 kills. Crabb, who gets some swings in a scramble situation when McKibbin sets the ball, finished with six kills. Sophomore Josh Taylor also had nine kills.

The loss also motivated Punahou in practice, Crabb said, and a grittier Buffanblu team was able to scramble in transition, chase down balls and win several long rallies yesterday.

“;Our team is a completely different team since the last game,”; said McKibbin, who watched film of the previous matchup. “;They won the long rallies the last game. This game, I think we won the majority of the long rallies. That was a key and a big, big turnaround for us.”;

The Raiders' big hitters, Nick Christman and Taylor Donovan, were never factors, and coach Mike Among was forced to make some drastic lineup changes—including moving setter Logan Nowack to outside hitter for a bit—to try to get his team going.

Despite the loss, just the second of the ILH season for 'Iolani, the Raiders are headed to the state tournament after clinching a berth earlier this week.

“;We've got some time to improve and work on things,”; Among said. “;That's all you can do.”;