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No. 1 Mira Costa sweeps Punahou

By Kaylee Noborikawa

LAST UPDATED: 1:47 a.m. HST, Apr 10, 2011

It's not called the Clash of the Titans for nothing. And the feature match between the top-ranked Mira Costa and No. 5 Punahou boys volleyball teams didn't disappoint. The main event between these two western powerhouses resulted in a 25-22, 25-10, 26-24 sweep in favor of the Mustangs, but the outcome didn't reflect the roller-coaster ride of a match.

The first set seemed to go Punahou's way, as the Buffanblu held the lead for most of the set. Libero Kekai Nu‘uhiwa fired up the Buffanblu, flying across the court and picking up seemingly impossible balls to keep rallies alive, while Larry "Tui" Tuileta hammered four kills at key points in the set.

But the No. 1 team in the nation fought its way back, taking advantage of an inadvertent buzzer to shift the momentum. Mira Costa took the lead for the first time in the set at 23-22 off an ace by Christopher Orenic, while DJ White's fifth kill of the match and a hitting error by Tuileta secured the set.

The second set took a dramatically different turn as the Buffanblu's offense shut down with 10 hitting errors at minus-.250, while the Mustangs hit an efficient .500.

"I thought we played a pretty solid match for the first set," said Punahou head coach Rick Tune. "We should've won, but we're a pretty young team and we're still learning how to close our matches. We kind of gave that first set away and it took us a while to get our momentum rolling back again and I think that carried over a lot into Set 2."

Mira Costa carried the momentum and took an 18-10 lead in the third, led by White, who finished with a match-high 11 kills. The Buffanblu gave up 13 points on hitting errors, yet managed to stay in the match with a renewed Tuileta, who amassed eight kills and tied the set at 24-24. Orenic scored a kill off the block to give the Mustangs match point and a scramble play ending in a miscommunicated ball between two Buffanblu players ended the game.

"Mira Costa is a great team and they made some great plays tonight. It's a game of momentum swings, and young teams have to learn when they have the momentum, how to keep it and when they don't have it, how to work their way back to get it. It was just a great learning experience for us," Tune said.

Middle blocker Benjamin Lam posted seven kills for Punahou and Nu‘uhiwa finished with 12 digs.

Mira Costa's Jake Miller tallied 10 kills in the win, followed by Orenic and Karl Acres with seven apiece. The Mustangs outblocked the Buffanblu 10-7.

"I thought they played quite well, and when our defense gets going we're pretty hard to stop," said Mira Costa head coach Mike Ninnis. "We knew we had to have a strong blocking game to beat Punahou and frustrate their hitters. They have a tremendous program and they can play with the best of them."

Santa Barbara 3, ‘Iolani 1

Only a few points decided the winner in the early match featuring Santa Barbara and ‘Iolani. The Dons willed their way past the Raiders in a 25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23 thriller.

Alex Biedul led Santa Barbara with 12 kills, followed by Casey Slaught with 10, and Holden Ploch with nine. Libero Nick Clark steadied out the Dons' offense with 10 digs in the victory.

‘Iolani's Gabriel Vega lifted his team with a match-high 17 kills, while Tyler Cundiff posted 11 kills and hit .500. Outside hitter Logan Nowack was held to .103 hitting, but put down 13 kills.

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