Punahou works through slump against 'Iolani


POSTED: Sunday, September 27, 2009

The No. 1 team in the state was in trouble.

Punahou was in a funk, hitting more balls out than in, mysteriously failing to get the ball over the net on some swings and looking vulnerable as fifth-ranked 'Iolani seemed destined for an upset.

The visiting Red Raiders' six-point lead midway through the first game of yesterday's match was mostly earned thanks to Punahou's seven hitting errors on eight straight points. But with the momentum and the lead, 'Iolani looked to be in control of the ILH regular-season matchup.

And then all of a sudden, the Buffanblu's hitters found their rhythm, their passes found their target and 'Iolani's own spikes started missing as the top-ranked team in the state used its depth, power and talent to surge past a flustered Red Raiders team. Punahou survived the 'Iolani scare to walk away with a 25-21, 25-18 victory and keep its pristine regular-season record at 12-0. The Buffanblu have yet to drop a set in an ILH regular-season match.






No. 1 Punahou2525
No. 5 'Iolani2118





“;Sometimes you have to be able to win without necessarily being on top of your game start to finish,”; said Punahou coach Jim Iams. “;One of the good things is (we) handle adversity pretty well. We got into a hole. I think (we're) able to climb back into it one point at a time. Maybe we never got as good as we wanted to, but we were able to recover.”;

The Red Raiders entered the game on an eight-match winning streak but fell to 11-2 with the loss.

“;With that type of team, any kind of little opportunity you give them, they take full advantage of it,”; said 'Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng said. “;I give them credit. They stood their ground and played well.”;

But Punahou not only had to stand its ground, the Buffanblu had to overcome perhaps their worst game of the season.

Frustrating finishes to both games had 'Iolani applauding its opponent but wondering what might have been had it managed a point here or a point there.

“;What it came down to was who showed up at the end,”; Maile Yoon said. “;And they just closed it out.”;

The win sets up next week's big-time ILH showdowns. On Tuesday, the Buffanblu face Sacred Hearts (9-2) and No. 2 Kamehameha plays Hawaii Baptist, the reigning Division II state champion. Then the state's top two teams will face off Thursday at Kamehameha.