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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, September 20, 2000

H A W A I I _P R E P _ S P O R T S

Punahou tops
St. Francis; next
stop Las Vegas

By Tim Crouse
Special to the Star-Bulletin

The Punahou girls' volleyball team is flying high.

The Buffanblu head to Las Vegas tonight, sitting atop the Interscholastic League of Honolulu standings.

Punahou beat St. Francis, 15-9, 6-15, 15-5, in front of a standing-room only crowd at Sacred Hearts.

The Buffanblu are 8-0 in the ILH. St. Francis dropped into a tie for second with Iolani and Kamehameha at 6-1.

Punahou plays Friday and Saturday in the Maui Life Durango Fall Classic, against competition from around the country. The Buffanblu hope to keep the tournament title in Hawaii, as Kamehameha won last year, en route to a perfect season and No.1 national ranking.

Punahou is ranked 9th nationally by and 25th by

"It was good for us to be challenged," Punahou coach Diana McKibbin said. "We haven't really been challenged except for the few times we've played St. Francis."

She said losing the second game and needing to rebound quickly in the third was a good test.

"These are the things that we've been working on -- to rise to the occasion and have to play tougher mentally. It was a good thing. We learned a lot," McKibbin said.

Punahou surged ahead quickly, taking 8-2 and 10-3 leads, thanks in large part to their blocking.

The Troubadours, with Anela Vendiola replacing injured starting setter Deeann Nahale, made a run to get within 10-6, capped by a pair of thunderous Elizabeth Narkon kills.

But St. Francis' momentum stalled after McKibbin called a timeout, and the Troubadours never got any closer in the first game.

St. Francis turned the tables in the second game, roaring out to a 6-0 lead.

Time after time, Vendiola went to the 6-foot tall Narkon, who finished with a match-high 14 kills and five blocks.

Punahou couldn't mount a sustained rally, and St. Francis closed out the game in dramatic fashion when Kalae Araujo hit a one-handed shot from her knees that just slid over the net.

But Punahou rebounded to dominate the decisive third game.

"In the second game we were undisciplined," Buffanblu setter Milia Macfarlane said. "But in the third game we did everything we wanted, all the things we've worked on the past couple weeks."

Punahou broke open a 3-2 game by going on a six-point tear. The points came from good offense and some St. Francis errors.

Punahou gradually extended the lead to 11-3, and the Troubadours never got any closer than 11-5 the rest of the game.

"They came out and played more consistently in the third game," St. Francis coach Sean Maskell said. "They didn't make mistakes."

Sophomore middle blocker Puna Richardson controlled the match at times, and finished with 12 kills and five blocks.

Melissa Wilton blasted 10 kills and Maxine Karimoto contributed four aces for the Buffanblu.

With the big match out of the way, Punahou turns its attention east.

"We haven't even talked about the trip. We've been totally gearing up for St. Francis, with (Las Vegas) on the back burner," McKibbin said. "Now we can talk about it and enjoy the fact that we're going."

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