Kahuku uses late momentum swing to seize win over Kapolei
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku players celebrated their victory over Kapolei in five sets on Monday.
In a match of severe momentum swings, Kahuku was fortunate to find the right gear in the fifth set of a 25-21, 12-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-11 victory over Kapolei in the OIA girls volleyball semifinals at Moanalua on Monday night.
“They took the odd (sets) and we took the even and that’s the wrong way to do it,” said Hurricanes coach Naidah Gamurot. “It was a momentum match. Whoever picked up that momentum was able to fly with it and the other team couldn’t break it.”
For the seventh-ranked Red Raiders (12-1), it was a matter of togetherness when the chips were down, according to coach Michelle Tevaga.
“We made it this far together,” she said. “We didn’t make it this far on the play of one or two people. Once that set in, that ‘Hey, we can do this together,’ it kicked in.”
Kahuku, which already has a spot in the D-I state tournament, plays Mililani on Wednesday night at McKinley for the OIA D-I championship. A victory there would give the Red Raiders their 13th league title.
Throughout the match, the scoreboard showed ties 26 times and there were 15 lead changes. The 10th-ranked Hurricanes, who also own a spot at states, led from start to finish in the second set. Kahuku did the same in the finale.
In the opening set, the last of 12 deadlocks came at 20-20 before the Red Raiders went ahead and closed it with three straight points on Makayla Fonoimoana-Vaomu’s kill and ace and Savannah Taosoga’s kill.
The Kapolei middles began to show dominance in the second set. With Olivia Transfiguracion doing the setting, Kailana Andrade put down five kills and fellow middle Angel Nahinu added three as the Hurricanes built leads of 10-1 and 22-10 and won easily. It appeared that Kapolei’s middle play would be the eventual difference in the match, but Kahuku somehow found a way in the end.
In the third set, Kahuku stormed home after a 16-all tie. In the stretch run, middle Penina Mata‘u had a kill and an ace and Taosaga added a kill as the Hurricanes were beset by some crucial mistakes.
Those middles, Andrade and Nahinu (13 kills), were at it again in the fourth frame, sharing nine kills as Kapolei rolled fairly easily.
But in the fifth, the Red Raiders overcame a 4-2 deficit with inspired play from Taosoga, who had two kills for a 5-4 lead and Mary Fonoimoana, who had three of her team’s kills in a row for a 10-5 lead. Taosoga delivered two more kills to finish off the Hurricanes.
Kahuku middle blockers Kalamela Liua (4) and Mary Fonoimoana (13) combined on the double block on Kapolei middle blocker Alizaysha Sopi (14) during the third set of the Red Raiders’ five-set win on Monday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
“We just didn’t put our balls in the right places (in the fifth set),” said Kapolei’s Andrade, who finished with eight kills, three blocks, three aces and three digs.
“We had a chance and it slipped away,” Gamurot added.
Taosoga and Fonoimoana-Vaumu had 14 kills each for Kahuku, and Skyy Botelho had 19 digs. Alizaysha Sopi led the Hurricanes in kills with 17. Kawehi Marinas added nine kills, and Transfiguracion had 49 assists, 11 digs and three aces.
“Coach said we gotta stay tight and I guess we were just the team that wanted it most,” Taosoga said. “In the (championship match), we’re going to fight. We really want this title.”