Kahuku setter Teuila Nautu had two reasons to celebrate avoiding a fifth set last night.
Not only did it mean the Red Raiders clinched a spot in the finals of the Oahu Interscholastic Association girls volleyball playoffs, but it meant the ailing senior could get some much-needed rest.
Nautu, who said she has been battling the flu for two weeks, had 40 assists and Lizzie Blake had a team-high 18 kills to lead Kahuku to a 25-22, 27-25, 21-25, 25-22 victory over Moanalua last night at McKinley.
The Red Raiders (13-2), ranked fourth in the Star-Advertiser Top 10, are the only team left in the OIA without a playoff loss.
Moanalua (13-2), which won the regular season OIA East crown ahead of Kahuku, but is ranked sixth, must defeat Castle tonight to get a second crack at the Red Raiders in the playoffs.
Ho’onani Apo and Lepeka Kalulu-Sugai each added eight kills as the Red Raiders’ diversity in their offense was key in beating Na Menehune for the second time in three matches this season.
"Where the pass goes I know I have a bunch of places I can go with (the ball)," Nautu said. "It’s nice when you can count on a lot of hitters."
Junior outside hitter Erin Perez had a match-high 19 kills and senior Courtney Calicdan added 17, accounting for 36 of Moanalua’s 41 in the match.
"It’s something we’re working on because we know when we go to states the top teams that we’re playing are going to be (diverse) like that," Kahuku coach Kaniela Kalama said. "We’re trying to be unpredictable."
Na Menehune, whose only loses have come to Kahuku, must beat Castle tonight and then the Red Raiders twice over the next four days to claim their first OIA championship since 2007.
The Red Raiders have won the last two titles and three of the previous five.
"We had a few too many service errors," Moanalua coach Tommy Lake said. "That’s (a few) too many points to give away, but I think beyond that we can play with them if we get our serve going."
Moanalua committed 17 serving errors, including two different streaks of three straight.
Kahuku led by as many as eight in the first set before surviving a late Moanalua run to win 25-22.
The second set was even until kills by Blake and Apo gave Kahuku a 20-15 lead. Pati Anae’s third kill of the set put the Red Raiders up 24-21, but Na Menehune got three straight kills by Calicdan to tie it at 24-all.
A hitting error gave Na Menehune match point, but Kalulu-Sugai, who hadn’t put down a kill all match, sandwiched two around a Moanalua hitting error to give Kahuku the game at 27-25.
Moanalua scrapped its way to take the third set and pulled within a point at 23-22 in the fourth when Apo put down her eighth kill to bring up match point.
Na Menehune went to their star, but Perez’s attempt sailed out of bounds to end the match.
OIA RED PLAYOFFS
Pearl City def. Kaiser 25-23, 25-21
OIA WHITE PLAYOFFS
Roosevelt def. Kalaheo 18-25, 25-18 25-16, 25-14