Kahuku ready for
another title run

For Mona Ale and her Kahuku teammates, the by-product of being the defending state champion is a never-ending search for perfection.

"We have to expect the unexpected -- we're still not where we want to be yet," said Ale after the Red Raiders swept Farrington 26-24, 25-17 in Oahu Interscholastic Association East Conference action yesterday afternoon in Kalihi. "We have a lot of work to do with our defense. I know we can do better."

While the Red Raiders are still searching for that perfect match, there can be no doubt that they're hitting their stride. Yesterday's win was the sixth straight for Kahuku since an opening-season loss to Kalani. Since that time, the Red Raiders, who have won the last two OIA girls' volleyball titles in addition to last year's state championship, have benefited from a little fine-tuning, offensively.

"There's been a huge difference in our offense," Kahuku coach Mona Ah-Hoy said. "We were going with a 6-2 (against Kalani), and we're in a 5-1 now. With one setter (Leeann Mapu) we can use Mona better. She's been having good practices and good games. She missed the Kalaheo game (last Saturday) so she could catch up with her studies, but she did really well today."

The Red Raiders (6-1) have four regular-season matches remaining (Kailua, McKinley, Moanalua and Roosevelt) and were already looking ahead immediately after yesterday's win.

"I told the girls, even though we swept Farrington today, we need to come in a half-hour early on Monday (before practice),'" Ah-Hoy said. "We're not going to get better unless you put in extra time besides practice, and I know they're ready.

"Coming into this game, we knew it would be tough because of their two big hitters (Sunshine Misa-Uli and Tanya Sale)," she added. "Offensively, we did all right, but we still need a lot of work on defense. We were a little sluggish."

Ale led the way with eight kills, four of which came in an 8-2 run in Game 2 that allowed the Red Raiders to close out the match. Farrington (4-3) had led 3-0 and kept pace with the visitors up until the midway point when the Red Raiders' Musie Olevao delivered successive kills to break the last of six ties for a 15-13 Kahuku advantage.

After a service ace by Sachiko Mamizuka made it 17-13 Kahuku, the Governors pulled within 17-15 on successive points by Misa-Uli (one on a kill and another off of a block). But Ale jump-started what turned out to be the decisive run when she walloped a point off of a perfect set by Mamizuka. Camilla Ah-Hoy also figured big for Kahuku with three of her seven kills coming in Game 2.

"Kahuku did their job whether coming with the block or a hit," said Farrington coach Jenic Tumaneng. "They have quality players at Kahuku -- they're a great program. What more can you say about them? We played hard enough to get there (in position), but we needed to make plays down the stretch. It comes down to execution."

Kahuku moved out to a 9-5 lead in Game 1 -- the largest advantage for either team -- but couldn't put the hosts away as Farrington rallied to even the score at 10-all when Misa-Uli collaborated with Matalasi Tauaa for a block on Ah-Hoy. The last of 13 ties made it 24-all before a net violation on the Governors, and a block by Terina Oto (with help from Ale) helped the Red Raiders claim Game 1.

Misa-Uli led Farrington with a match-high nine kills.


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