Its backs were against the wall and No. 3 Kamehameha refused to give in against top-ranked Punahou in a three-hour, 10-minute, five-set ILH girls volleyball match Tuesday night
The Warriors fell behind twice and pulled it out, 22-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20, 15-12 at Kekuhaupio Gym.
It was an incredible match, complete with nasty-good defense, long rallies and potent attacks. All that, plus back-and-forth momentum all night long.
“Compared to our last match against Punahou (a 25-18, 25-17 loss), we came out to play for each other a lot more and we played with heart and as a team,” Warriors setter Bryanne Soares said. “It was very nerve-wracking, one of the tougher games we’ve had this season. It was good for us to grow as individuals and as a team, playing at that high level with each other set us up for the rest of the season.”
The win pushes Kamehameha into a first-place tie with Punahou in ILH Division I, Quad 1. Both teams are 7-1.
“We’re really happy with how the team competed,” Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. “Punahou’s a great team and they’re playing very well. They rose up and took game three from us after us being in the driver’s seat for that. I’m proud of the girls how they fought together. It was a great team win. Our defense played very well and we passed very well in general. The strength of our team is the team and when things got tight, we had to rise up. They did an excellent job when the chips were on the line. (Libero) Tara DeSa (32 digs) was solid. Middles Kayla Faulkner and (Tongi Sua-Godinet) had some key kills in set five, Devin (Kahahawai) and Maui (Robins) played great on the pins and Bryanne did a great job distributing. The team did a really good job to come out with the ‘W,’ especially taking Game 4 and back it up with Game 5.”
Both setters kept their offenses clicking. Soares finished with 52 assists. Punahou’s Chloe Kaahanui had 42 and her Buffanblu teammates added a total of 10.
The Warriors got 21 kills from middle Keonilei Akana and 17 from Kahahawai, with Robins and Sua-Godinet swinging for seven each.
On the other side, Punahou was led by Madisyn Beirne with 19 kills and Aleah Liilii and Kaia Dunford with nine each.
“It definitely was a good game,” Buffanblu coach Tanya Fuamatu-Anderson said. “We just gotta dig deeper. Gotta fight harder and we have to take care of the ball, especially in serve/receive and everything after that. Absolutely the girls are disappointed. They came out on the short end. It was a battle back and forth. Now it’s a matter of coming back and doing better.”
Here’s a look at what went down on the court in each of the sets:
Fifth and deciding set / Kamehameha 15-12
There were ties at 1, 2, 5 and 7, but Kamehameha went on a four-point run to for a 10-7 edge. Akana had two kills during that spree. The Warriors pushed it to 14-10 before Punahou scratched back at 14-12. The match ended in the Warriors’ favor when Dunford’s attack hit the net.
Fourth set / Kamehameha 25-20
Punahou led 16-11, but couldn’t put the match away. Kamehameha went on a an 8-1 run to take a 19-17 lead. Akana had two kills in that span, Sua-Godinet had a key block and Kahahawai contributed with an ace. The Warriors got home from there, outscoring the Buffanblu 6-3 the rest of the way and Akana finished it off with a kill on set point.
Third set / Punahou 26-24
The Warriors led 23-18, but that edge disappeared fast. Punahou’s 4-0 run got it to a one-point, 23-22 deficit. That surge was keyed by Liilii, who stayed hot until the end of the set with four late kills. The Warriors had match point at 24-22 and again at 24-23 but could not get it done. A Kate Yoshimoto (31 digs) put Punahou ahead for the first time in the set, 25-24, and Isabelle Iosua (match-hihg five blocks) ended it with a block.
Second set / Kamehameha 25-21
This set had eight ties and four lead changes. The Warriors never lost the lead after going ahead 9-8. They crept to a 13-11 lead and then went on a critical 8-3 run for a 21-14 edge, which was the biggest lead at any point of the match. Punahou got as close as 22-21 on Kharlie Simeona-French‘s block of Akana, but three straight kills — one by Sua-Godinet and one by Akana — allowed Kamehameha to tie the match.
First set / Punahou 25-22
The Buffanblu enjoyed a 17-13 lead, but that didn’t last long. Kamehameha stayed right with them all the way to 22-21. A kill by Beirne and an ace by Iosua boosted the Punahou lead to 24-21 — and a bit later — the Buffanblu wrapped it up when the Warriors’ Robins hit long.
“We practiced tough for this game this week,” Kaahanui, the Punahou setter, said. “We could have done a little more on the defensive end. We came out strong and started to fade a little when Kamehameha picked up our tactics and things like that. They found our weaknesses a little bit, but we tried to keep pushing. It was definitely a fight tonight.”
Intense ILH wars are expected to continue. Kainoa Obrey, the coach of the defending Division I state champion ‘Iolani Raiders, was in the house. His team is 6-2, just one game behind Punahou and Kamehameha with ultra-big matches coming up.
‘Iolani visits Punahou on Friday and then Kamehameha travels to ‘Iolani on Tuesday.
The team with the best record in Quad 1 gets a berth into the D-I state tournament.