It may have been the finest hour of high school volleyball so far this season.
It certainly was anything but easy for No. 1 Kamehameha, which swept No. 2 Punahou 25-22, 27-25 in 60 minutes yesterday before a small, but boisterous, crowd of about 200 at Kekuhaupio Gym.
The Warriors improved to 14-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, establishing their status in the pecking order.
"Teamwork, definitely teamwork. I’m proud of our girls for executing the things they did, but teamwork is something we believe in," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. "They showed it today, the way they came back, especially in Game 2."
Misty Ma’a led the way with 13 kills, including nine in the second set in a Kamehameha rally.
"It wasn’t easy, but the work we put in at practice helped us," Ma’a, a 6-foot-1 junior, said.
Punahou (12-2) did more than show up, though, playing well enough to whet the appetite of fans who made the trek. The Buffanblu unleashed weapons of old — junior Tai Manu-Olevao cranked out eight kills — and new.
Sophomore Carly Kan added seven kills, including two blocks against much taller foes.
"I like how we competed today," Punahou coach Peter Balding said. "When we were down, my girls kept competing. They stepped up to the challenge, which I like."
The Buffanblu stayed close despite Kamehameha’s 3-1 attack (three hitters, one setter).
"They set up 10 feet from the setter, they pushed the middle and we made our adjustments," Balding said.
When Kamehameha went with two attackers, Punahou gave Manu-Olevao quick sets over the middle for a couple of kills before the Warriors made adjustments of their own.
In the end, Kamehameha was more efficient, using Kelci Renshaw (10 assists) and Alohi Robins-Hardy (18 assists) to direct the offense. Middle blocker Talia Jardin-Fermantez added eight kills, while Amanda Wasko, Nicole Sniffen and Brit Kalepa combined for eight more kills in the Warriors’ diversified attack.
Kamehameha, with only six hitting errors, hit .365.
Chelsey Keoho and Wasko had 10 digs each to lead Kamehameha’s back row.
Punahou, with senior Ali Santi guiding the offense, got five kills from middle blocker Brigette Russo. The Buffanblu hit .235, but were solid defensively with Kat Brooks in the back row and a front wall that combined for five blocks, all in the second game.
"We fought together as a team from the beginning to the end. We were scrappy," Santi said. "I thought Kamehameha was consistent. They didn’t hit many balls out and kept a lot of balls in play."
When the teams meet again in the league’s second round, the match will be a best-of-five format.