Kahuku sweeps past
St. Joseph

By Jerry Campany

HILO >> The people of Kahuku have learned that the easiest way to silence a city is with a whole lot of noise.

The Red Raiders brought a large party to Hilo and shouted the hometown crowd down at the Nissan Girls State Volleyball Tournament at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium last night.

Of course, they couldn't have done it had their team not played a lot better than anyone else in the tournament, winning the state championship by beating top-seeded St. Joseph 15-13, 15-11.

It is Kahuku's first girls volleyball crown, and the first for an Oahu Interscholastic Association team since Kailua in 1981.

It took a while for Kahuku -- a team that thrives on energy -- to get going, as the Cardinals took a 7-2 lead in the first game. But once the Red Raiders got going, they really got it going.

Kahuku got revved up by looking for senior outside hitter Tuli Peters, who finished with eight kills and was the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

"I gathered the setters around and told them, 'Find Tuli. Tuli is our spark. Find her.' Then she was awesome as usual," Kahuku coach Mona Ah-Hoy said.

The Red Raiders turned that deficit around then won the first game when freshman Camilla Ah-Hoy took over service with her team trailing 12-11. She proceeded to sandwich a pair of aces around a Peters kill to give Kahuku the lead. She lost the serve, but it didn't hurt, as the Cardinals hit one attempt long on one play and Sarah Mason whiffed on a bad set to end it.

Once Kahuku started rolling, there was little St. Joseph could do to stop it. At least while Peters was on the floor and Cardinals middle blocker Mason wasn't.

Mason played in half the game because she was out of rotation, meaning that Kahuku ran through sideouts while she was on the floor and held serve when she sat down.

"Tuli was incredible, pretty much unstoppable," St. Joseph coach Rachelle Hanohano said. "I think if Sarah was on the floor a little more our defense wouldn't have been so bad, but Kahuku is an excellent team and we have nothing to be ashamed of."

The OIA champion Red Raiders rode the momentum to a 14-5 lead in the second game before running out of steam.

That was when St. Joseph showed a little bit of the championship form that carried it to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation title and the tournament's top seed. The Cardinals reeled off six straight points, four of them on kills by junior outside hitter Jazmin Paakaula.

Kahuku took a timeout at 14-11, then started its championship celebration when junior middle Lindsey Lee couldn't pick a ball off the top of the net, giving the Red Raiders the serve -- and junior Mona Ale found an empty spot in the middle of the floor for a kill to make unheralded Kahuku the state champions.

St. Joseph had won 17 consecutive matches and was seeking its first state title. A neighbor-island team hasn't won a state crown in girls volleyball since 1974.

Before last night, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu had won every championship since 1981.

Monarisa Ale of Kahuku joined Peters on the All-Tournament team, along with St. Joseph's Jazmin Paakaula and Sarah Mason, Iolani's Kanoe Kamanao, Kamehameha's Mounia Nihipali and Seabury Hall's Kaimana Lee.

In other matches

Third place: Kamehameha def. Seabury Hall 0.
Fifth place: Iolani def. Maui 15-5, 15-11.
Consolation championship: Kalaheo def. Pearl City 15-11, 15-13.

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