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Kahuku sweeps Kapolei to advance to OIA D1 title game

ShaLi Niu puts down a kill past a Kapolei block. Niu was one of three Kahuku players to finish with six kills. CJ Caraang | SL

Kahuku benefitted from Kapolei's mistakes to sweep the Hurricanes in straight sets, 25-14, 25-22 and 25-19, in the first semifinal at McKinley's Student Council Gymnasium Tuesday night.

The Red Raiders, who have yet to drop a set this season, improved to 13-0 and will face off with Mililani in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I championship match on Thursday.

Kahuku, who was swept by Moanalua in last year's OIA championship match, will be seeking its 11th league crown when it takes on the Trojans (12-0).

"It means a lot for us, especially after what happened last year when we made it and loss, so we're super excited," said senior setter ShaRae Niu, who dished out 22 assists to go along with three digs, three kills, one block and an ace.

Niu was one of seven Red Raiders to register a kill in the contest. Cheyenne Teo, ShaLi Niu and Carey Williams all had six kills to lead the Red Raiders' attack. Phoebe Grace held down the middle with five kills and had a hand in four blocks. Laulove Tonga and Penina Matau rounded out the list with two and one kill respectively.

"I'm super blessed to have all these hitters," said the 5-foot-8 setter. "Everyone one of them has their own unique thing that they do really well at."

Kapolei committed 40 total errors in the loss as they dropped to 10-2. The Hurricanes, who will be one of six OIA teams participating in the Division I state tournament, will take on Moanalua for third place Wednesday night at Farrington.

The Hurricanes' miscues doomed them in the first two sets. Errors helped Kahuku go on a 13-2 run to close out the opening game. The final three points of the closest set of the match were three straight hitting errors by the Hurricanes.

CJ Caraang / SL

"That was more errors than we usually make," said Kapolei coach Naidah Gamurot. "I think when we were playing consistent, it was on the up-and-up. As soon as we took a little dip, we just didn't play well."

Jayleen Abregana had a match-high seven kills to lead the Hurricanes in the loss.

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