Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Punahou rattles Kamehameha

By Paul Honda


All sophomore Carly Kan wanted to do was send her senior teammates off with big smiles.

Kan did that with a team-high 14 kills, while junior Tai Manu-Olevao added 12 as No. 2 Punahou toppled No. 1 Kamehameha 25-22, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23 to win the Interscholastic League of Honolulu second-round title yesterday.

"Any time you beat Kamehameha, yeah, it's a great win. We got some breaks when we needed them," Punahou coach Peter Balding said. "I know we had to play our best match to beat these guys. We might have caught them on an off night. We played good as a team tonight."

An exuberant crowd of nearly 1,000 at Hemmeter Fieldhouse saw the Buffanblu hand the Warriors their first loss after 18 wins in league play. Punahou (17-2) will play Kamehameha for the ILH championship on Tuesday at Kekuhaupio Gym. That winner will get the league's seeded state-tournament berth.

Kamehameha coach Chris Blake had questions for officials after the match in a 5-minute discussion.

"I'm not going to blame the officials. Punahou played with fire and desire," Blake said. "We didn't have the opportunity to execute in end game a lot, and a lot of it had to do with what Punahou did. We tightened up."

It was a final home match for Punahou's three seniors: Ali Santi, Shannan McCready and Brigitte Russo.

"They're fun to be around. You just want to play better around them," Kan said of her senior teammates.

"I love them. I love my team. They're like sisters on and off the court," said Santi, who finished with 40 assists.

It was a change from Kamehameha's two-set sweep of Punahou two weeks ago. The Buffanblu served tougher, especially with Tanner Hoke at the back line. They also limited Kamehameha to .232 hitting.

"The past two weeks, we worked on our discipline as a team, our blocking. That was our main goal," Santi added.

Even with the renewed emphasis on defense by Punahou, Kamehameha's Misty Ma'a had 14 kills. Nicole Sniffen added 10 kills, Amanda Wasko had nine, Talia Jardin-Fermantez added eight and Brit Kalepa landed seven.

Kan, a high flyer, was especially resilient in the third set with the match tied at 1 game each. Punahou's defense, doubling up on Ma'a throughout, was effective in the back row. Kat Brooks led the charge on the floor, helping Santi collect 12 assists, and Kan had a whopping 22 swings during the third.

Kan had four kills in that set, as did Manu-Olevao. Kamehameha took an 18-17 lead on Wasko's kill, then had a 23-21 lead on a kill by Ma'a from the right side. However, a setting error gave Punahou a break, and a roll shot from Kan tied it at 23.

After another kill by Ma'a, Kamehameha committed another error at the net, and McCready's kill gave the Buffanblu a 25-24 lead. Then came a swing by Jardin-Fermantez that was initially ruled long. Officials conferred for a couple of minutes as the Warriors indicated that the ball had been deflected by Punahou.

Officials ruled the ball untouched by Punahou, and the Buffanblu won the set to take a 2-1 lead. Punahou had 60 attempts in the third set, double their usual number, with just two hitting errors to wear the Warriors down.

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