KEAAU >> Belief can be a powerful thing.
Kamehameha drove home that point with a rousing defeat of top-seeded rival Punahou, 25-23, 25-20, 25-23 today in the title game of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships at Keaau High School.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Micah Christenson put together a masterpiece in his finale as an outside hitter and added a volleyball title to his basketball hardware as a senior. USC’s future setter had 22 kills and no errors on .500 hitting with three blocks.
“I think it was our confidence and just believing in each other,” Christenson said. “I think that was huge for us. We came together as a team this year and we won this game as a team. I think that’s what got it done.”
Kamehameha won its fifth state title in the sport and first since 2002. Punahou was denied a three-peat, its sixth title in seven years and 30th championship overall.
The Warriors (21-3) were unseeded, but calling last night’s outcome an upset would be a stretch. The Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-ups played at an otherworldly level the whole way in winning four matches in four days and never dropping a game; Kamehameha swept a previously undefeated league champion for the third night in a row.
After losing to the Buffanblu in the state final both of the previous two years, the Warriors proved themselves cured of persistent self-doubt on the biggest stage. Not even two losses to Punahou (21-1) in the ILH regular season could shake them this time.
By the end of the season, the Warriors were unshakeable in big moments as first-year coach Kainoa Downing often took a hands-off approach and let his players delegate.