Kahuku sweeps Punahou
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku swept Punahou on Saturday to take fifth place in the Ann Kang Invitational Volleyball Tournament at ‘Iolani School gym.
Kahuku’s volleyball team has not spent much time together. But in three days of play at the Ann Kang Invitational Volleyball Tournament, the Red Raiders showed they are mentally ready for the season.
Fourth-ranked Kahuku defeated No. 2 Punahou 25-20, 25-19 in the tournament’s fifth-place match at ‘Iolani on Saturday. The Red Raiders, who finished the tournament 6-2, had the highest finish among Hawaii teams in the 16-team field. In an all-California final, Mira Costa swept defending champion Santa Margarita 25-20, 25-21.
“They are just ready, they’re ready mentally and that’s where we want them to be,” said Kahuku coach Mounia Tachibana, whose team had fewer than 10 practices entering the tournament. “That second set, they were hungry for it, they wanted it, especially since it was Punahou, something different, a top ILH team. They wanted to show not just the coaching staff but everybody as well, we are ready for the season.”
Punahou and Kahuku got into the fifth-place match after finishing third in their respective pools with 5-2 records. Carey Williams had seven kills and Cheyenne Teo had six kills for Kahuku. ShaRae Niu had 24 assists.
Kahuku took the lead for good midway through Set 2, leading 19-14 before holding off a Buffanblu rally. Paige Hilliard had four kills to help Punahou close to 21-19, forcing Kahuku to call a timeout.
“We just told each other that we had to fight and play our game and push one point at a time,” said Williams.
Williams had a kill, and two Punahou errors put the Red Raiders at match point. Williams’ kill finished the match.
“It was a good tournament for us; we loved the awesome competition, especially from different teams that we don’t (see),” Tachibana said. “It helped us with learning about each other, those team factors such as trust, discipline, everything that comes (with) volleyball.”
Phoebe Grace’s play in the middle helped the Red Raiders pull away late in Set 1. She had three kills to give Kahuku a 22-18 lead. Williams’ ace and Teo’s kill put Kahuku at set point. ShaLi Niu, who came off the bench a few plays earlier, buried a kill to give Kahuku the set.
Hilliard, who only played in Set 2, led the Buffanblu with six kills and Pi’i Clemens had five kills and three blocks. The Buffanblu fielded different combinations throughout the tournament and changed their lineup between sets against the Red Raiders. Punahou looked sharper in the second set, but passing difficulties helped Kahuku pull away.
“It’s kind of nice that we have that flexibility, but we still have to find that starting six,” Fuamatu-Anderson said. “For the kids, I’m hoping they came away with (the idea that) we’re capable of a lot but it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Kahuku won its final three matches of the tournament. It beat ‘Iolani in three sets on Friday and wrapped up pool play on Saturday morning with an 18-25, 25-21, 15-9 win over Sage Hill (Calif.).
“We were kind of struggling at the beginning of the tournament because it was the first tournament playing as a team,” Williams said. “But we just had to trust each other and play consistently. Playing the private schools was very exciting because we don’t play them during the season.”
Championship — Mira Costa def. Santa Margarita 25-20, 25-21
3rd place — Southlake Carroll def. Edison 25-12, 27-25
Semifinal — Mira Costa def. Edison 25-12, 26-24
Semifinal — Santa Margarita def. Southlake Carroll 25-22, 25-18
5th place — Kahuku def. Punahou 25-20, 25-19
7th place — ‘Iolani def. Boswell 16-25, 25-18, 15-12
9th place — Sage Hill def. Le Jardin 25-21, 25-20
11th place — Los Alamitos def. Moanalua 25-19, 25-18
13th place — Hawaii Baptist def. Newport Harbor 19-25, 25-14, 15-8
15th place — Kingwood def. ‘Iolani I-AA 25-17, 25-9
Le Jardin def. ‘Iolani I-AA 25-9, 25-9
Moanalua def. Newport Harbor (Calif.) 25-14, 25-20
Hawaii Baptist def. Kingwood (Texas) 25-16, 25-22
Kahuku def. Sage Hill (Calif.) 18-25, 25-21, 15-9
Santa Margarita (Calif.) def. Mira Costa (Calif.) 25-18, 23-25, 15-10
Punahou def. Boswell (Texas) 21-25, 25-21, 17-15
Southlake Carroll (Texas) def. ‘Iolani 20-25, 25-22, 18-16
Edison (Calif.) def. Los Alamitos (Calif.) 25-20, 27-25