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Kamehameha within a victory


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POSTED: Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kamehameha is on a mission.

That task meant dismantling the Big Red Machine of Kahuku. The Warriors used smart serving and a balanced attack en route to a 27-25, 25-16, 25-20 sweep of the Oahu Interscholastic Association champions last night in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA State Championships at James Alegre Gymnasium.

Junior Talia Jardin-Fermentez led Kamehameha with 14 kills (.458) and sophomore Misty Ma'a had 10 kills with five digs. Senior Taylor Akana (seven kills, nine digs), sophomore Amanda Wasko (seven kills, six digs) and sophomore Kelci Renshaw (32 assists, seven digs) were also key factors in the Warriors' efficient win.

“;We focused a lot on ball control and spot serving,”; coach Chris Blake said. “;Kahuku is great offensively and we took a lot of their best shots. I'm happy with the execution of all the little things we did. Taylor definitely did a great job keeping us focused. She's confident and stepping up.”;

Kamehameha (19-3), the runner-up from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, will meet top-seeded Punahou tonight in the final at Stan Sheriff Center. Match time is 7 p.m.

Kahuku (16-2) and Kamehameha were tied at No. 2 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10 this week.

“;We dug ourselves a hole in every set,”; Kahuku coach Uila Fotu Vendiola said. “;But Kamehameha's a great team. If they play like they played tonight, they have a chance against Punahou.”;

For a while, it looked like the Red Raiders, seeded second in the tourney, were dead even with the Warriors.

Down 18-9 in the first set, Kahuku went on an amazing 14-3 run to take the lead. Amanda Tonga had four kills and four blocks in the set, including a block of Akana to give the Red Raiders a 22-21 lead. After a kill by Maria Tonga, Kahuku had a 23-21 lead and Kamehameha called time out.

The Warriors bounced back with a kill from the right side by Akana and consecutive roofs by Nicole Sniffen to give their team a 24-23 lead.

“;One of our problems was hitter coverage. Two of those three points (scored by Kamehameha) were off the block and we had no coverage,”; Fotu Vendiola said.

A kill by Ho'onani Apo tied it at 25-all, but Maa and Wasko delivered kills off Kahuku blocks to end the first set.

The Warriors carried their momentum into the second set, and their game plan to minimize Kahuku's offense worked to near-perfection. Amanda Tonga didn't get a kill in the second game as Kamehameha eased a 2-0 lead in the match.

Kamehameha jumped to a 10-1 lead in Game 3, but Kahuku managed to pull within 16-12. The Red Raiders got within 22-19 on a kill by Natallia Cravens over the middle, but got no closer.

Amanda Tonga finished with seven kills and just 15 swings. Maria, her cousin, had a team-high eight kills, while Elizabeth Blake (five kills, nine assists, seven digs), Teuila Nautu (18 assists, six digs) and Cravens (five kills) also contributed.

Kahuku had 20 hitting errors (.117) against Kamehameha's persistent block. Chelsey Keoho had 10 digs to lead Kamehameha's back row.

Kamehameha also had 20 hitting errors, but hit .223 and had more digs, 46-35.

“;This is the best we've played as a team,”; Akana said. “;Especially with being aggressive and blocking, staying confident. We're excited and we're ready to play Punahou. As long as we stay focused, we'll be fine.”;

Punahou had a first-round bye by virtue of its seeding as the ILH champion, while Kamehameha has played three nights in a row. Punahou won both regular-season matches with Kamehameha, the four-time defending state champion.