Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, November 14, 2001


Kanoe Kamana'o leads Iolani into the Nissan Girls State
Volleyball Championship, which starts tomorrow.

Accomplished Kamana’o
has 1 more goal to reach

By Jason Kaneshiro

There is little Kanoe Kamana'o hasn't accomplished in her volleyball career.

Since bumping her first ball at age 6, Kamana'o has won national tournaments with her club team, trained with the best in the country and played in international competitions.

But tomorrow Kamana'o and her Iolani teammates enter uncharted territory. After capturing Iolani's first Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls volleyball crown, the Raiders will take the floor in the program's first state tournament appearance since 1987.

"We are really excited, we can't wait," Kamana'o said. "Everybody's working really hard. Since we won the ILH we can't take anything easy. ... We need to work even harder."

The waiting will finally end tomorrow when the Nissan Girls State Volleyball Championships open with pool play at McKinley High School gym and Kekuhaupio Gym on the Kamehameha Schools' campus.

Iolani, which went 15-0 in the ILH, is the top seed in Pool A and will face Hawaii Prep and Pearl City at Kekuhaupio Gym.

Pool B is made up of Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Hilo, Lanai and Waianae.

Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Kahuku leads Pool C, which includes St. Joseph and defending state champion Punahou.

Maui Interscholastic League champion Seabury Hall, Kauai and Kalani comprise Pool D.

The top two teams from each pool advance to Friday's quarterfinals at Blaisdell Arena. The semifinals and finals are set for Saturday.

The Iolani girls' state tournament run continues the school's volleyball renaissance. Last week, the boys team advanced to the state tournament finals. This week, the Iolani girls will compete for the state championship for the first time since the current Raiders were toddlers.

"(The Iolani girls) went down as a group and cheered (the boys team) on," Iolani coach Ann Kang said. "And they're all stoked to take it one level more, because the boys did a great job."

While the Raiders have the depth and talent to contend for the crown, much of their hopes rest in Kamana'o's reliable hands.

The 5-foot-7 junior is Iolani's primary setter and one of its heaviest hitters. She's a sound blocker and can score from the service line. And her experience as a libero on the U.S. Junior National team the past two summers helped refine her passing and defensive skills.

"I like being the setter because you're like the quarterback of the team," Kamana'o said. "It's all up to you to coordinate what's going on."

But her greatest asset to the team may be the confidence she instills in the players around her.

"She brings a lot of steadiness," Kang said. "She doesn't have really bad days. ... She's kind of like the rock. ... And because she's so steady you know you don't have to make the perfect pass for her. And her maturity on the court as a team player has helped them to relax and play better."

Kamana'o's coolness is a product of her experience. At 13, she led her Asics Rainbow team to the open title at the junior national championships. She also honed her game at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and played with the junior national team in tournaments in the Dominican Republic.

"Up there we were always taught to fight like a warrior," Kamana'o said. "You're up there representing your country. It's like if you win against the other country, they respect you. Down here it's kind of the same way where you play other schools."

Iolani earned the respect of opponents this season by sweeping through the ILH season. The Raiders barely missed out on a state tournament berth last year, and with most of their key players returning this fall, the players believed their time had come.

"This was the year we thought we really had it in our hands," Kamana'o said.

While Kamana'o and senior outside hitter La'akea Campbell have been Iolani's most prominent players this season, the Raiders' depth has played a key role in their success. Seniors Blair Nonaka and Ashley Elliazar add offensive punch to the lineup, while middle blockers Fabriann Gin and Raeceen Woolford are solid at the net.

"Teams that do well, there's more than one or two players and we feel we have that," Kang said. "There's not a big gap between the different players and they mesh well."

And Iolani's chemistry could add yet another highlight to Kamana'o's already impressive volleyball resume.

"Our first goal was to win the ILH," she said. "That goal is finished and our next goal is to win the state and hopefully it'll happen (this) week."

Nissan Girls State Volleyball Championship

Pool A: Iolani, Hawaii Prep, Pearl City
Pool B: Hilo, Lanai, Waianae
Pool C: Kahuku, Punahou, St. Joseph
Pool D: Seabury Hall, Kauai, Kalani


At Kekuhaupio Gymnasium
>> Hilo vs. Lanai, 1 p.m.
>> Pearl City vs. Hawaii Prep, 2:15 p.m.
>> Lanai vs. Waianae, 3:30 p.m.
>> Hawaii Prep vs. Iolani, 5 p.m.
>> Waianae vs. Hilo, 6:15 p.m.
>> Iolani vs. Pearl City, 7:30 p.m.

At McKinley High School
>> Kauai vs. Seabury Hall, 1 p.m.
>> Kahuku vs. St. Joseph, 2:15 p.m.
>> Kalani vs. Kauai, 3:30 p.m.
>> St. Joseph vs. Punahou, 5 p.m.
>> Seabury Hall vs. Kalani, 6:15 p.m.
>> Punahou vs. Kahuku, 7:30 p.m.


At Blaisdell Arena
>> Pool A winner vs. Pool B runner-up, 3:30 p.m.
>> Pool C winner vs. Pool D runner-up, 4:45 p.m.
>> Pool B winner vs. Pool A runner-up, 6 p.m.
>> Pool D winner vs. Pool C runner-up, 7:15 p.m.


At Blaisdell Arena
>> Semifinals, 2 and 3:30 p.m.
>> Third-place match, 5:30 p.m.
>> Championship match, 8 p.m.

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