Punahou, Iolani
1-2 in S-B poll

Iolani may be on a hot streak early in the season, but it is defending state champion Punahou that still gets the nod from voters.

Punahou collected four of nine possible first-place votes and amassed 82 points, just one more than Iolani, to pace the season-opening Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10 poll.

For longtime coaches like Scott Rigg, August is far too early to assess much of anything.

"I'm not sure how much everyone else will change, but we're gonna change a lot. I'm glad that we're, you know, on the radar," Rigg said. "On the other hand, that's a lot of play with very little training, and that's what everyone's basing it on."

Rigg, who has led Punahou to state championships in boys and girls volleyball, is just happy to have consecutive practice sessions after back-to-back tournaments.

"Once everybody's healthy and everyone sees each other. We've spent the last three days just shaping things up," Rigg said. "I think every coach who plays two straight tournaments will want to do that."

The Buffanblu struggled at times at the Ann Kang Invitational two weeks ago, but came on strong at the Hawaii Invitational. Punahou swept Kamehameha in the finals of the Hawaii Invitational while still playing without Larissa Nordyke.

Kamehameha was without powerful senior Deven Bukoski.

"We played Kamehameha with a couple of major people out of our lineups, so it's all speculation right now, as it is in August every year," Rigg said.

Iolani received as many first-place votes as Punahou. The Raiders pushed Los Alamitos (Calif.) to the finals of the Ann Kang, forcing a championship playoff before losing. The Raiders took last week off.

Kahuku garnered one first-place vote and is ranked third despite losing four middle blockers two weeks ago. Of the four, two suffered ACL injuries and aren't expected to return this season.

Three teams that didn't finish last season in the Top 10 landed in it today. Word of Life (No. 5), Mid-Pacific (No. 9) and St. Francis (No. 10) are all small schools from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.

St. Francis is among the contenders to win the ILH's Division II crown. In all, six of the 10 ranked teams hail from the ILH.

Teams from all three of Kamehameha Schools' campuses are in the poll. The squad from Kamehameha's primary campus on Oahu is ranked fourth, while KS-Maui and KS-Hawaii are sixth and tied for eighth, respectively.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association begins regular-season play next week. The ILH will start Sept. 9.

"We have HBA right out of the blocks. Those guys put the ball back over the net," Rigg said of the league opener.

It may be cliché to say, but there will be no days off in the ILH, not when five of the seven teams are ranked, and the other two -- Hawaii Baptist and Maryknoll -- are highly competitive.

"There's some great teams out there, and some really good coaching staffs, too. That first round's huge. If you can get first place, that's great," Rigg said. The first-round winner secures a state tournament berth, one of two the ILH has.



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