Behrens downs HBA in Punahou's victory


POSTED: Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The conversion is complete.

Juliana Behrens is a hitting machine. The 6-foot-1 senior soared for 13 kills with just two hitting errors as top-ranked Punahou swept Hawaii Baptist 26-24, 25-20 last night in girls volleyball.

A crowd of about 200 at HBA's Dan Liu Gymnasium saw Punahou improve to 5-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Behrens made the transition from middle blocker to outside hitter this year, giving coach Jim Iams two 6-footers at the position.

“;It's a lot more exciting. You get to pound the ball a lot more,”; Behrens said. “;The setting (by Malia Patterson) was really good.”;

She was lethal — and clutch — on a night when the visiting Buffanblu seemed a bit rattled. They lost an eight-point lead in the opening set before rallying for the close win.

“;We came out really nervous at first,”; Behrens said. “;We weren't talking. It was quiet until the last few points of the first set.”;

Coach Jim Iams had warned his team about HBA's tradition of great defense.

“;He told us they're going to dig up a lot of balls,”; Behrens said.

Carina Thompson had seven kills (.429), while Brigette Russo and Tai Manu-Olevao had five each. Patterson dished out 29 assists.

“;We were so sloppy at times,”; Iams said. “;This was the day to get Punahou.”;

Seventh-ranked Hawaii Baptist, the two-time defending state champion in Division II, dropped to 5-1. C'era Oliveira led HBA with 10 kills (.333). Sarah Palmer, double-teamed through the match, finished with nine kills (.350). Kayla Kawamura had a team-high 23 assists.

“;We expended too much energy coming back,”; HBA coach Myles Shioji said. “;We dug too much of a hole, but I'm proud of the girls for coming back.”;

Ali Santi had back-to-back aces, and Patterson was in a groove early, connecting with Russo for a couple of kills. Manu-Olevao had a block and a kill as Punahou surged to a 12-4 lead.

Kills by Oliveira and an ace by Taryn Bohan helped rally the Eagles to within 15-13, but Behrens steadied the ship for Punahou. She had three more kills as Punahou took a 20-16 lead.

However, hitting errors plagued the Buffanblu, and Oliveira's consecutive kills gave HBA its first lead, 22-21.

Patterson then went to 6-foot-2 middle Thompson for two kills in a row as Punahou regained the lead. Two Buffanblu errors, however, gave the lead back to HBA at 24-23.

Thompson tied it with another kill from the middle, and a key dig by Kat Brooks led to another Behrens kill for a 25-24 Punahou lead.

A hitting error by Palmer from the back row gave Punahou the first set.

“;We missed too many serves in the first game,”; Iams said.

Behrens had six kills early in the second game as the Buffanblu sprinted out to a 14-6 lead and never looked back.