Buffanblu come out as Titans


POSTED: Saturday, April 10, 2010

For a while, the wall of Sea Kings tried to block every move by the nation's No. 1 boys volleyball team.

In the end, even with a 12-5 edge in blocks, Corona del Mar couldn't do it. Josh Taylor's 21 kills and four aces powered Punahou to a 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-14 win over the Sea Kings at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

A relatively quiet crowd of about 650 saw Punahou, ranked No. 1 in ESPN Rise's Fab 50, claim its second victory in as many nights at the “;Clash of the Titans”; exhibition tournament.

“;They're a great team. You saw a clash of titans,”; Buffanblu coach Rick Tune said. “;They really pushed us.”;

Henry Cassiday added 12 kills and versatile Taylor Crabb tallied six kills and a solid all-around effort by the Buffanblu. Setter Tyler Kubota put all of his weapons to work, resulting in four kills by middle Austin Ako and another four by middle Benjamin Lam.

That balance was enough to offset a brilliant defensive effort by coach Steve Conti's Sea Kings, who are No. 29 in the national poll.

CDM's Weston Nielsen, a 6-foot-5 senior, was especially formidable. When he didn't challenge at the net, he dug just about every serve and swing that came his way in the back row.

Their defense limited Punahou to a .125 hitting percentage in the first two games, but the Buffanblu hit .484 in a pivotal third set to take command of the match. Punahou then dominated the fourth game, hitting .577.

“;They're so strong on the pins, the right side, the left side. Then their middle puts the ball down,”; said Nielsen, who will play for UC Santa Barbara next season. “;We had errors at times and I can account for may of those.”;

Nielsen led his team with 10 kills and five blocks. Parker Brown, a 6-1 sophomore, added seven kills and two blocks, while Spencer Haly tallied six kills and three blocks.

Joey Booth, a 6-5 outside hitter heading to USC, added five kills and a block, while Evan Dean and John Christian added four kills apiece.

In all, CDM hit .168 against a Punahou defense anchored in the back row by libero Noah Hammond.

The teams met in the “;Best of the West”; tourney in California last month, a two-set sweep by Punahou.

“;We've gotten better,”; Nielsen said. “;We played our best at times tonight, but Punahou's definitely the best team we've played. Josh is hard to block; he's a force. Then they've got Taylor and Henry. They're just great.”;

Booth and Cassiday didn't square off much at all, but the two are going to be teammates at USC — and roommates. They became friends during a camp last year in Florida.

“;They've improved. They run more combos, jump higher and hit a little harder now,”; Booth noted.

Punahou never trailed in the opening set, but the visitors caught fire in the second game. A hitting error gave CDM an 8-7 lead and they held on to tie the match.

The Sea Kings rallied to tie the third game at 16-all thanks to a kill by Booth, an ace on a jump floater by Nick Curci and a hitting error by Taylor. However, Punahou scored the next five points.

CDM rallied with kills by Nielsen and Brown to pull within 21-19, but two more kills by Taylor fueled Punahou's 5-2 run to end the third set.

By the fourth game, Punahou's offense was in control and found little resistance at the net from the weary Sea Kings. Cassiday, who had five kills in the third set, added four more in the fourth as the Buffanblu eased to victory.

Newport Harbor (Calif.) 3, HBA 1

For a short while yesterday, it was hard to tell whether the Sailors of Newport Harbor (Calif.) were more red-faced from a morning visit to Haunama Bay or a lopsided loss the night before to Punahou.

Turns out, it was more of the former than the latter. The Sailors got their land legs back after losing the first set in an otherwise dominant 22-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-16 win.

An adjustment by coach Dan Glenn was the tweak Newport Harbor needed. Glenn moved outside hitter Cody Caldwell to the right side, and everything seemed to fall into place. Caldwell, who struggled with three hitting errors and a service error in the opening set, finished with 19 kills and four aces, shredding the Eagles' defense from the back row, as well.

“;We got back into a little bit of rhythm,”; Glenn said. “;We didn't get into a rhythm (Thursday) night. Punahou kicked our butts.”;



'Iolani 6, Mid-Pacific 3


Jarrett Arakawa, Sheldon Lee (5) and Tiras Koon. Ryan Muraoka, Lawrence Chew (2), Marcus Doi (6), Kelly Meguro (7) and Dane Fujinaka. W—Arakawa. L—Muraoka.

Leading hittersIol: Jensen Park 2-4, 2 RBIs. MPI: Nikolas Alarcio 3-4; Ryan Muraoka 2b, 2 RBIs; Cy Higashi 2b.

Saint Louis 9, Pac-Five 4

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Kalei Contrades, Joshua Nakamura (4), Chris Chung (6) and Dallas Correa. Ryan Uenten, Christian Morimoto (3), Jordan Kumasaka (7) and Bryson Kihara. W—Nakamura. L—Uenten.

Leading hittersStL: Fukumoto 3-4, 3b, RBI, 2 runs; Nakasato 3-4, RBI, 2 runs; Aliviado 2-4, 3b, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Tom 3-4, 2b, HR, 2 RBIs, run. P5: Sugai 2-3, 2 runs; Okiknaka HR, 2 RBIs, run.

Punahou 15, Pac West 1



Punahou 4, St. Francis 1

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Jasmine Ioane and Kayla Shimoda. Shealee Koki, Briana Tovio-Asato (2) and Kayla Sakamoto, Tovio-Asato (5). W—Ioane. L—Koki.
Leading hittersStF: Mia Arroyo 2-2, RBI. Pun: Mysha Sataraka 2-2, run; Reina Furuya 2b, run; Ioane 2b.