Kahuku crushes Moanalua
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku’s ShaRae Niu, who finished with 20 assists, and Moanalua’s Ke‘ila Williams, who finished with a team-high six kills, battled at the net during the first set of Wednesday’s match.
Led by the all-around play of senior middle Phoebe Grace, Kahuku showed it’s ready to steal the Oahu Interscholastic Association volleyball title from Moanalua in a 25-15, 25-15 sweep of Na Menehune on Wednesday night at the Red Raiders’ gym.
With the win, No. 1 Kahuku improved to 7-0 and gained a little separation on two-time defending league champion and No. 6 Moanalua, which fell to 6-1 in the OIA East standings.
Grace, a Utah commit who stands 6 feet 2, put down five blocks and had a team-high eight kills.
“Yeah, they’re definitely good,” Moanalua head coach Alan Cabanting said about the Red Raiders. “They took us out of our rhythm. We practice it all week, and our youngsters in the bright lights buckled under pressure. When we finally started to find a rhythm, Kahuku made the plays.”
The Red Raiders were never in serious danger of losing the lead, going up 11-5 in both sets. Na Menehune came as close as 19-14 in the opener on two straight kills and a block by senior middle Ke‘ila Williams, who finished with a team-high six kills.
Late first-set kills by the Red Raiders’ Carey Williams and Lauolive Tonga set the stage for a dominant finish by Grace, who scored four of the team’s final points with two kills on sets by ShaRae Niu and two blocks.
“We definitely wanted to play Moanalua because the past couple of years we haven’t been able to beat them,” Grace said. “We really wanted this win and I’m glad we got it.”
Niu, a senior, finished with 20 assists, and teammates Tonga and Williams helped out with six kills each. In addition, ShaLi Niu turned in a solid performance with four kills, two aces and a block, and Katelyn Erickson contributed with four kills.
“We stuck to the team plan,” Kahuku coach Mounia Tachibana said. “Whether or not it was the perfect game that we are always expecting as coaches, at least they got the job done. They mentally pushed themselves to physically do the job and did well executing as far as they could. We could have played a lot better. When they have more energy, our game is a lot quicker — our passing is a lot quicker and we read the game a lot better, and even our hits are more consistent.”
In the second set, kills by Moanalua middle Delylah Sanreivi and hitter Emily Dulaney got the deficit to 15-11.
Two kills apiece by the the Red Raiders’ Williams and Erickson and an ace by ShaLi Niu got the lead to as big as nine points at 21-12 and 22-13. A little later, two Moanalua hitting errors ended the match.
“I was glad to see our middles (Sanreivi, who had four kills, and Ke‘ila Williams) got comfortable,” Cabanting said. “Phoebe (Grace) is a great middle, but we were able to get balls around her. She got some blocks and I kept telling our middles that she’s going to get blocks, but if we can continue to attack that middle that’s where the hole is going to happen for us.”
The Red Raiders and Na Menehune are not scheduled to meet again in the regular season. Another matchup in the playoffs is quite possible.