RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha's Ronson Olaso slammed the ball during yesterday's ILH match against St. Louis at McCabe Gym.
After opening the season with back-to-back wins on consecutive days, the Kamehameha boys volleyball team already has a half-game lead in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu standings.
and getting better
By Cindy Luis
That may be the closest the rest of the ILH will come to the Warriors the rest of the season. The defending state champions improved to 2-0 with a 15-2, 15-3 victory over St. Louis (0-1) yesterday at McCabe Gym.
And "improved" is the operative word. Coach Pono Ma'a said he saw his team get better in the 20 hours since the Warriors had downed Lutheran on Friday night, 15-3, 15-8.
"The word we used was 'efficient,' " said Ma'a. "I was hoping we'd find a rhythm. The quick sets are working, we're running a nice low red on the back side. Plus we've got Isaac (Kneubuhl) running the pipe (hitting out of the back row).
"Our serving was good, it put them in trouble. They couldn't run much and, when they could run it, they got real predictable."
Senior outside hitter Kneubuhl, the MVP of last year's state tournament, put down four kills as Kamehameha jumped out to an 8-1 lead in Game 1. He added two aces to help the Warriors expand it to 12-1.
Junior setter Ainoa Miyashiro also began connecting with senior middle Will Melemai (five kills) and senior hitter Jarrett Day (four kills). Melemai put down two quick sets to end it after 15 minutes.
Game 2 lasted about as long. St. Louis tied it at 1 before Day teed off from the backline for nine straight serves. He opened with an ace; when he gave up the serve, Kamehameha was ahead 10-1.
"That was awesome," said Day. "I was listening to Coach, serving spots, trying to hit them the best I could.
"We definitely improved from yesterday. We picked it up and found a rhythm. It's very important for us to defend our title and repeat."
St. Louis coach George Ehia voiced what most have been thinking since Kamehameha won the championship last November.
"Kamehameha is the top team and everyone else pretty much will be chasing them," said Ehia. "Most of our players were on the J.V. last year and it was hard to be put up against the strongest team to open the season.
"I agree that we were a little intimidated at the beginning. I thought we held our own, but they're still making the transition to varsity."
Not so for Kamehameha, which has three starters back from last year's 20-0 team. With their core intact, assistant coach Mike Among said they had the luxury of bringing up several sophomores and, for the first time in the 10 years he's been associated with the varsity program, a freshman (Kory Matsukado).
Today is a day off for Kamehameha and the Warriors know they're in for a tough practice tomorrow in preparation for Tuesday's match with Punahou.
"Sunday is your day, Monday is ours," Ma'a told the team.
Notes: Kamehameha's explosive junior hitter Adam Tuifagu, an all-America selection at last summer's Junior Olympics, is still limited to back-row duty. Tuifagu suffered a concussion after being hit on the head by a falling branch at Knotts Berry Farm last summer; he was hospitalized last month after having a seizure while watching the Iolani Girls Invitational. ... Missing from the St. Louis roster is senior Max DeWolf, a third-team all-state selection who has transferred to the Academy of the Pacific and will be unable to play in his final year of high school eligibility. DeWolf is the only player from Hawaii that UCLA coach Al Scates said he is interested for next year.
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