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Flu can't stop No. 5 'Iolani


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POSTED: Friday, September 25, 2009

Mahina Haina nailed seven of her eight kills in the second set as No. 5 'Iolani rallied from a 10-point deficit to complete a 25-11, 25-23 sweep of Maryknoll last night at Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium.

The Raiders are 11-1 heading into tomorrow's key match with Punahou. Maryknoll fell to 8-4 after winning its three previous matches.

The remarkable rally had everything to do with 'Iolani's composure and depth. Coach Jenic Tumaneng's team was hit by a flu bug this week.

“;We didn't do anything different. We just had to execute our game,”; said Haina, a 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter.

'Iolani extended its win streak to eight, but for a while, it seemed the Spartans and their home crowd of about 100 fans were in for a long, cool night in the air-conditioned gym.

Maryknoll kept Haina in check during the first game, but succumbed to 'Iolani's balanced attack and barely gave the visitors a challenge. The second set was far different.

Outside hitter Capri Tirrell got hot, and aces by Christina Chun and Tirrell sparked the Spartans to an 11-4 lead. Versatile Michele LaPorte (seven kills, 11 assists) and Krista Lizardi reinforced their attack, and Maryknoll had a commanding 20-10 lead.

Suddenly, however, everything opened up for the Raiders. Haina slammed a point down off a back set from Mali'e Yoon. Kamea Chock came up with one of her team's four blocks. Alissa Youart and Haley Robinson were mostly uncontested with kills over the middle, and 'Iolani caught fire.

Despite two timeouts, Maryknoll surrendered a 15-3 run that ended the match. Robinson had all six of her kills during the rally. Her last kill tied it at 23-all, and Haina put it away with the final two kills before a stunned Spartans audience.

Youart had a team-high nine kills and Yoon dished 29 assists. 'Iolani hit .369 (six errors).

Tirrell led Maryknoll with seven kills and added an ace. Chun, a senior, had two aces. Maryknoll had a whopping 85 swings, but hit .117 (10 errors) against the taller Raiders.

“;They actually picked up their defense,”; Spartans coach Lee Lamb said of 'Iolani's rally. “;We let up on the throttle.”;

The Spartans' losses have been to ranked teams (No. 1 Punahou, No. 2 Kamehameha, No. 6 HBA), but they've been competitive despite the loss of 5-10 outside hitter Malia McGuinness since preseason. With just four seniors, they're still learning how to finish a game.

“;The big lead made us anxious. In my opinion, we're one of the best defensive teams around, but we didn't get it done,”; he said of the Raiders' rally. “;We didn't get touches. We let that one get away.”;

'Iolani won its previous match with Maryknoll 25-21, 25-15 during the Kauai Challenge.

Now the Raiders get a shot at league co-leader Punahou.

“;Every team is beatable. It's going to take willpower,”; Haina said. “;Who wants it more.”;