Warriors soldier on


POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008

How would you look at it?

Punahou, the bridesmaid to Kamehameha's role as bride since 2005, ready to pounce on the Division I girls volleyball state title. Why? Kamehameha's corps of elite talent finally graduated. Life is cyclical, right?

Kamehameha, with some unproven new starters, due for a dip because, well, nobody is perfect forever. Dynasties, from Ming to Tutankhamun, come to an end eventually.

That script isn't quite the whole story, but it explains in part the fuel and fire that lit this fall's Kamehameha squad. After all, Punahou beat the Warriors in a tiebreaker match to win the ILH's first-round title. Only later, in second round and overall championship matches, did Kamehameha 1) win the league, and 2) secure a state-tournament berth.

To sweep Punahou—the state's second-best team, according to the Star-Bulletin Girls Volleyball Top 10 voters—three times in a row is no ordinary feat.

A 25-11, 25-16, 25-18 title win over the Buffanblu on Saturday cemented Kamehameha's dynasty for a new era of Warriors. With a fourth state title in a row, any changeover or cycle has been put on hold.

“;Chris did a great job after such a talented team last year,”; Punahou coach Jim Iams said of Kamehameha coach Chris Blake. “;Any time we had anything going, they played like state champions.”;

Blake has consistently pointed to the schedule, year after year, and asked his players to culminate their season with the very best performance in a state final.

“;Everything just worked tonight,”; middle Alex Akana said. “;I'm so glad we played our best match in the last game.”;

That wasn't hard to envision for seniors like Akana or even Whitney Viveiros, who finally got to start this season.

“;I had to wait. This feels a whole lot sweeter,”; the outside hitter said.

Since that midseason loss to Punahou, Kamehameha did not surrender another set.

“;Definitely, for this team to go for it, that loss made these kids really bear down,”; Blake said.

Caitlin Andrade had 82 assists and 22 digs in three tourney matches and was voted most outstanding player. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Viveiros, Taylor Akana and Alex Akana. Rounding out the team were Anuhea Keanini and Tai Manu-Olevao of Punahou, Nile Te'o of Kahuku and Kayla-Al Kaluau of Kamehameha-Maui.

Kamehameha won the first two girls volleyball state tournaments in 1969 and '70 under Kuuipo Lum. The Warriors won again in '77, '82 and '83—again under Lum.

No team won more than two titles in a row until University's unmatched run of seven straight titles from 1984 to 1990 under Raplee Fitzsimmons (four championships) and Glennie Adams (three).

Kamehameha began a dynasty in 1991 with Dan Kitashima's first state title. That started a run of six first-place trophies in a span of nine seasons for Kitashima.

Punahou then had mini-run of three crowns in five seasons under Diana McKibbin, Scott Rigg and Randy Nako.

With the last four state championships under Blake, Kamehameha now has 16 crowns in girls volleyball, and the space in the trophy case at Kekuhaupi'o Gym continues to shrink.