Thu, Oct 24, 2019 @ Moanalua [ 7:00 pm ]
SALT LAKE — Led by Keonilei Akana's 16 kills, top-ranked Kamehameha shook off some early sputters to sweep past unseeded Kapolei 25-20, 25-14 and 25-20 in a quarterfinal match of the New City Nissan Division I Girls Volleyball State Championships at Moanalua Thursday.
The Warriors, champions of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and the top overall seed in the 12-team tournament, improved to 13-2 with the win. They advanced into Friday's semifinal round, where they will play No. 5 Moanalua at 5 p.m. on the Menes' home court.
The Hurricanes, who finished third in the Oahu Interscholastic Association, fell to 12-3 with the loss. They will play fourth-seeded and 10th-ranked Kekaulike in a 5 p.m. consolation match at McKinley Friday.
Akana, a senior outside hitter and opposite, took 34 swings and committed seven attack errors for a .265 hitting percentage. The USC-bound Akana added nine digs.
"I think Kapolei was really scrappy, they picked up a lot of our defense, they were doing really well," Akana said. "They were making us move a lot, which was really nice for their team and they were putting us out of system, too. I'm just really glad that our defense is doing well, too."
As a team the Warriors posted 46 digs to 33 for the Hurricanes. Libero Tara De Sa came up with a team-high 12 digs and junior outside hitter Maui Robins chipped in with 10 digs and seven kills.
The Hurricanes were in front early on. A service ace by Alexis Kepa, Kapolei's only one of the match, gave her team a 7-4 lead in the opening set. The lead shrunk to 9-7 and the Warriors went on a 9-2 run that was ignited by an Akana kill from the left side to surge ahead, 16-11.
Kapolei burned its timeouts trailing 18-13 and 22-16 and got to within 23-20 on a Kawehi Marinas kill, but Akana set-up set point with a kill through the block on the left side before closing out game 1 from the right side with her sixth kill of the set off an assist from Bryanne Soares.
While Kapolei was coming off of a win in Monday's first round over Waiakea, Kamehameha was playing its first match since it wrapped up the ILH title with a sweep of Punahou on Oct. 11.
"It's states, you know, we've been here before, we've been fortunate enough to be here before, but I think it's just, you know, the rest-versus-rust thing is one thing, but the play of Kapolei is very, very good, so lucky for us we came out, put them into some bad spots and did some good things," Warriors coach Chris Blake said.
Akana said the team was eager to get back in competition mode after the length layoff.
"Because we hadn't played in such a long time we've just been practicing and playing against each other in the (practice) gym, so we were really just excited and I'm glad we got the jitters out from the first set," Akana said.
After hitting a respectable .273 in the opening set, the Warriors turned it up to the tune of a .406 hitting percentage in game 2, when they scored points in bunches and separated from the ‘Canes early.
Devin Kahahawai put down four of her 10 kills in the second set. The 6-foot-1 sophomore outside hitter hit .562 for the match, with just one error in 16 swings.
Kamehameha scored just one natural point — a Kahahawai kill — during an 8-2 run midway through game 3 to take a 20-13 lead and force Kapolei to call its second timeout of the set. Toodie Sopi put down three straight kills to cut the Warriors' lead to 24-20, but Kanoelani Lindo went off the block and out off of a back row set by Robins on match point to end it.
Middle Noelle Sua-Godinet had seven kills and hit .462 in the win.
"It's been a while since we were on the court for real, you know, it's been about 13 days I think — we played last week Friday — but we're happy with where we're at," Blake said. "We got to see some things and it was just good to get somebody else on the other side of the net today."
The Warriors used two setters in the match. Soares, a senior, started and played the entire first set then gave way to junior Kahiau Kaalele, who played all of set 2 and about half of the final set before Soares finished out the match.
"We're looking at different things and making sure that we're preparing everybody for our contingencies," Blake said. "We have a number of great players and for us, with our ‘next-person-up' mentality, we want to make sure everybody is doing their job."
Soares recorded 16 assists on 45 attempts and Kaalele notched 21 assists on 44 tries.
"We believe that the strength of our team is our team and everybody being able to contribute when called upon, I think, is important. It's making sure that we understand the rhythm (because) we want to make sure we prepare for the rains before they come, for sure," Blake said.
Sopi had nine kills and Kawehi Marinas seven in the loss. Libero Ayanna Nunuha dug a match-high 14 balls and setter Alexis Kepa notched 19 assists for the Hurricanes, who hit just .031 for the match.
Kapolei was seeking its first appearance in the semifinal round since 2017, when it was swept by Kamehameha in the final four and went on to finish fourth overall.
The Hurricanes were also swept by the Warriors in the quarterfinals of the 2016 state tournament, when they posted a fifth-place finish.
Kamehameha will look to extend its winning streak to six games when it takes on Moanalua Friday. The only time the teams met this year came in a preseason tournament hosted by the Warriors.
"We won in two (sets) in that one, but I'm pretty sure they're a different team," Blake said of Na Menehune, who eased past Kekaulike in Thursday's quarterfinal round. "We're a different team from then, too. I think we feel we're battle-tested, but we have to make sure that we're continuing to make those plays and continuing to grow. A three-set sweep (against Kapolei) was good, but we know we're definitely going to have to play better (Friday)."
First serve between the Warriors and Na Menehune (15-1) is slated for 5 p.m. at Moanalua. The late semifinal will feature No. 2 Punahou (12-2) taking on No. 4 Mililani (14-0) at approximately 7 p.m.
The semifinal winners advance to Saturday's state final at 7 p.m. at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena.