POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 2, 2012
For the 10th consecutive year, Kamehameha will close the season playing for a girls volleyball state championship.
But getting back to the final was far from a given for much of Thursday night.
The Warriors withstood a challenge from a tenacious Kahuku team and advanced to the Division I title match of the New City Nissan/HHSAA girls volleyball state championship with a four-set victory.
Kamehameha senior Pomai Recca put down a team-high 15 kills, and junior Alohi Robins-Hardy added 10 kills and distributed 33 assists to help lead the Warriors to a 25-20, 20-25, 25-22, 26-24 victory and set up a state final rematch with Punahou.
"Kahuku played out of their minds, we did a great job of making a lot of adjustments and our girls came down at the end of the match and executed," Kamehameha head coach Chris Blake said.
Kamehameha and defending state champion Punahou will meet in the Division I title match for the fifth consecutive year. The latest matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Blaisdell Arena.
"They're a great team," Blake said of the Buffanblu. "We can enjoy this for a little bit and come back to see what we can do tomorrow."
Kahuku, the OIA Red champion, will close the season in the 3:30 p.m. third-place match against Mililani.
Kahuku was led by Talia Brown's 12 kills, while Adora Anae posted 10. Setter Penina Snuka finished with nine kills while also posting 26 assists and serving three aces.
The roller-coaster duel culminated with a dramatic fourth set that included 14 ties before Kamehameha edged ahead at the end.
"Pretty intense," Robins-Hardy said of the conclusion. "We just had to stick together and execute each play and play as one."
Kamehameha's Faith Maafala had five of her nine kills in the first set, and Brown answered with seven in the second as Kahuku tied the match.
Brown accounted for three of the Red Raiders' final points after Kamehameha closed to 20-19.
Kamehameha middle blocker Pikake Laumauna helped power the Warriors in the third set with four of her 11 kills, and Kamehameha took the lead into the fourth.
The set began with the teams trading 10 ties up to 16-16. After a Kamehameha service error, Kahuku libero Ashley Mataele served up back-to-back aces to give the Red Raiders some momentary breathing room.
Kamehameha erased two-point deficits twice more and Kahuku called time out at 22-22.
The Warriors edged ahead and Robins-Hardy's final kill gave the Warriors match point.
Kahuku's next attack went into the net and Kamehameha celebrated a return to the state final.
"The second set we kind of took care of the ball but the rest of the time we just had too many unforced errors," Kahuku coach Camilla Ah Hoy said.
"It came from a lot of things, trying to be too aggressive on serving and frustration because Kamehameha digs a lot of balls. It was a lot of things."