For about 20 minutes, ‘Iolani looked the part of an Interscholastic League of Honolulu title contender.
During the next 60, Punahou reclaimed its starring role.
The top-ranked Buffanblu shook off a hot start by their third-ranked rival to triumph 20-25, 25-22, 25-17 last night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse, keeping the ILH balance of power locked between Punahou and unbeaten No. 2 Kamehameha in the league’s first round.
“They came out fast. I think we were caught a little bit off guard,” said Punahou senior Tyler Kubota, who put up 18 assists in sharing setters’ duty with Lowell Tong. “I think beating them in the ‘Iolani tournament (the Hawaii Boys Volleyball Invitational in late March) maybe gave us a little bit a sense of complacency. But I think we responded real well. The second set, the attitude wasn’t ‘Ahh shoot, we lost that first set.’ It was more, ‘Alright, now we gotta do it in three. That’s fine.’ ”
Just as the Buffanblu (8-0 ILH) found themselves on their home court, the Raiders’ composure went MIA. It seemed to fade after the Raiders led 18-17 in the second set, only to allow a 5-1 Punahou run that gave the hosts the lead for good.
In the third set, ‘Iolani (6-2) inflicted nearly as much damage on itself as Punahou dished out, with seven attack errors and five service errors.
‘Iolani coach Mike Among thought the loss effectively knocked his team out of title contention in the ILH first round. Another ILH berth to states will be up for grabs once second-round play begins.
“I think some of my guys are relatively new to volleyball, and being in this situation, and so probably tightened up a little bit. But that’s something that you gain from experience,” Among said. “In Game 1 we were playing a lot more loose. We stopped having fun. … Each game we have from here on in the first round is a chance to improve. I think that’s going to have to be the focus, get these guys believing that.”
Punahou coach Rick Tune has the Buffanblu buying into a well-rounded team concept where any player — or players — can go off on a given night. Yesterday it was a three-headed monster of senior middles Ben Lam and Brandon Pitzer and freshman hitter Larry “Tui” Tuileta. Lam had 12 kills and three blocks, while Pitzer and Tuileta added eight kills apiece. Tuileta displayed unusual poise for a frosh and chipped in with three service aces.
‘Iolani showed Punahou a different look than their previous nonconference match with a 6-2 offense instead of a 5-1.
“Same pieces, but volleyball’s a real skill-based sport, and it’s also finding where the matchups are,” Tune said. “You change the matchups a little bit, it doesn’t change the skill. You still gotta pass, set and hit. I think a big reason we started playing better is our passing steadied out in the second and third set. For us that’s critical to running our offense.”
Junior hitter Gabriel Vega led ‘Iolani with 12 kills, including a nifty shot from a nearly impossible angle to slide the ball past the right-side antenna and around the block to take the first set for the Raiders. Senior combo setter/hitter Logan Nowack added eight kills and 12 assists.
Both Punahou and ‘Iolani play against California national powers Mira Costa and Santa Barbara in the Clash of the Titans tournament at Punahou on Friday and Saturday. Mira Costa is the top-ranked team in the ESPN RISE Fab 50 poll, while Punahou is No. 5.
No. 1 Saint Louis 12,
No. 8 Punahou 5, 5 innings
After taking three straight games from Mid-Pacific last week, Saint Louis kept right on rolling.
The top-ranked Crusaders kept banging out hits, topping No. 8 Punahou, 12-5, in the first game of its three-game series with the Buffanblu yesterday at Ala Wai Community Park.
The two teams resume the series on Friday.
At Ala Wai Community Park
|SAINT LOUIS (13-0)||115||14||—||12||11||2|
Kalei Contrades and Iolana Akau. Zachery Munster, Tyler Kanazawa (3), Scott Peters (4) and Scott Peters. W–Contrades. L–Muenster.
Leading hitters–StL: Derek Nakasato 1-3, 2b, 2 runs; Tre Haliburton-Goes 1-3, 2b, run; Ka’ai Tom 2-2, 2b, RBI, run; Kaeo Alivado 1-2, 2 runs; Travis Shaw 1-2, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Kalei Contrades 2 RBIs; LJ Kalawaia 1-3, 2b, 2 RBIs; Iolana Akau 2-3. Pun: Rolenn Himuro 1-3, run; Michael Suiter 1-3, 2b, RBI; Rick Nomura 1-3, 2b, run; Nathan Higa 1-1, run; Michael Pang 1-3, run, RBI.
No. 4 Mid-Pacific 7,
No. 10 Kamehameha 6
The Owls came back twice to get back on the winning track after dropping three games to Saint Louis last week.
The Owls scored three unearned runs in the top of the seventh to pull out the win.
At Central Oahu Regional Park
Ivan Dilda, Brent Sakurai (1), Marcus Doi (3), Daniel Fentriss (4), Dane Fujinaka (6), Travis Garcia (6) and Dane Fujinaka, Doi (6). Zack Kaohu, Keanu Sato (4), Pookela Benanua (5) and Moku Kukona. W–Garcia-Perreira. L–Benanua.
Leading hitters–MPI: Justin Protacio 2-4, 2 runs; Nikolas Alarcio 1-3, 2 runs; Marcus Doi 2-3, 3b, 4 RBIs; Travis Garcia 2-3, 2b, RBI. KS: Kewby Meyer 3-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Kaulana Smith 2-3, run, RBI; Pookela Benanua 1-2, RBI; Alika McGuire 1-3, run.
Also: ‘Iolani 10, Damien 2
St. Francis 10
Britney Paranada singled up the middle to drive in two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead the Saints back to edge the Warriors.
Kamehameha scored six runs in the top of the first inning, highlighted by Karine Shaver’s two-run triple.
At Kamamalu Park
|ST. FRANCIS (1-1)||104||302||x||—||10||7||0|
Brandi Smith, Kaya Naiwi (5) and Reyna Ae. Tiffany Trantham, Brooke Langsi (3) and Ashley Wagner. W–Langsi. L–Naiwi.
Leading hitters–KS: Keanu Au 2-4, 2 RBIs. StF: Rachel Carlos 3-3, 3 RBIs, 2b, HR; Kelsie Hee 2-4, RBI, 2b, 3b.
No. 2 ‘Iolani 3,
No. 1 Mid-Pacific 2
The Raiders rallied to tie the game at 2-2 after the Owls scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the second inning.
‘Iolani’s Alex Masaquel doubled to center field to drive in Kimberly Souza, then came around to score on a sacrifice bunt by Amanda McCaskil. The Raiders won it with another run in the top of the seventh.
At Mid-Pacific field
Nani Taniguchi and Ula Reis-Moniz. Keiki Carlos and Kaydi Kochi. W–Taniguchi. L–Carlos
Leading hitters–Iol: Alex Masaquel 2b, RBI, run. MPI: none.