Kahuku sweeps its way to a showdown with Kamehameha


POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

A not-so-perfect night still brought satisfaction to Kahuku coach Uila Fotu Vendiola.

The Red Raiders took another big step toward a crown with a 25-16, 25-8, 25-18 sweep of Mililani last night in the quarterfinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships.

Kahuku is after its second state championship. Its only state title came in 2002 under coach Mona Ah-Hoy.

A small, but boisterous crowd at James Alegre Gym saw Kahuku (16-1) overcome a spotty start against the tricky Trojans. Amanda Tonga, a 6-foot-1 middle, powered the offense with 13 kills and just one hitting error (.632), while Elizabeth Blake led the back row with 10 digs. Blake added 21 assists and seven kills for the Oahu Interscholastic Association champions.

A balanced attack included Maria Tonga (nine kills, seven digs), Teuila Nautu (20 assists, six digs), Natallia Cravens (seven kills, .462), Liza Domingo (seven digs) and Ho'onani Apo (five digs). Their play allowed Fotu Vendiola to go deep into her bench late in the second set.

“;We got everybody in, and that always feels good at this point in the season,”; she said.

Shyanne Cossey led Mililani (10-7), the fifth-place finisher in the OIA, with 12 kills. The Trojans struggled against the taller Red Raiders at the net with 16 hitting errors (.046). It was a similar result to their matchup in the OIA playoffs, when Kahuku won 25-19, 25-16, 25-9.

Mililani adjusted and brought a different serve this time.

“;We had some trouble on the serve-receive,”; Fotu Vendiola said. “;Mililani changed it up and kept serving short.”;

Coming off an opening-round win over Baldwin, the Trojans were charged up and led 7-5 in the opening set against Kahuku when the tide turned. Kahuku went on an 11-0 blitz with kills from Blake, Nautu, Ho'onani Apo and Cravens. A Trojans time out in the midst of the big run didn't stop Kahuku, which took a commanding 16-7 lead and won going away.

Tonga added five kills in the second set as Kahuku dominated. A 12-2 run gave the Red Raiders an 18-6 lead.

The Trojans got a block from Janine Orosco and a kill from Cossey to pull within 6-all in the third set, but Kahuku scored the next five points, including an ace by Tonga. The Trojans refused to quit all the way to the end, scoring four points in a row on match point, including an ace by Kaila Kikugawa.

Kahuku ended it with a dump shot by backup setter Jasmine Vivas. Now the Red Raiders set their sights on Kamehameha tonight at Alegre Gym. Fotu Vendiola is confident, maybe even a little more than usual.

“;The only difference for me is I feel stronger in my belief that we have a shot at the championship. This is a special group of girls,”; she said.

Amanda Tonga agreed.

“;This group, everybody gets along. The bond is strong and there's no cliques,”; the senior said. “;We grew up together and played volleyball together a long time. Our passing wasn't all there today, but we were talking.”;

Red Raider fans will have a 4:30 p.m. football game at Aloha Stadium — an OIA Red semifinal — and could probably still catch their team's volleyball match at nearby Radford High School. Match time is 7 p.m.

Kamehameha 3, Waiakea 0

If defense wins championships, Kamehameha is on the right path. Kamehameha closed in on Waiakea hitters Chelsey Buyuan and Kamie Imai early to set the tone for a 25-14, 25-16, 26-24 sweep of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation's champions.

“;Waiakea's a very dynamic team, dynamic outside,”; Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. “;It shows the things we can do, to step up and play better than our previous game.”;

Misty Maa led Kamehameha (18-3), the Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up, with 10 kills, while Talia Jardin-Fermentez tallied nine kills (.368). Amanda Wasko stepped up with nine kills and seven digs, while setter Kelci Renshaw dished out 28 assists and hustled for 10 digs.

Chelsy Keoho chipped in with a team-high 14 digs for Kamehameha, which will face Kahuku in tonight's semifinal at James Alegre Gym.