KEAAU » Kamehameha has just one final job to do, one more champion to knock off.
The Warriors ousted No. 2 seed Moanalua of the Oahu Interscholastic Association last night, 25-17, 25-13, 25-18, in advancing to today’s title game of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships at Keaau High School.
Interscholastic League of Honolulu winner Punahou won the past two state titles at the expense of Kamehameha, and stands in the way once again.
The Warriors, who last won it in 2002, are out to prove they can shed the "runner-up" tag.
"One more to finish our season off against the best you can imagine," said senior hitter Micah Christenson, who confounded Na Menehune with his deft passing and 15 kills. "We’re a very close group, we’re all great friends and I think we’re going to come together and play our absolute best tomorrow. We honestly, truly believe this year we can get it."
Previously unbeaten Moanalua (17-1) was Kamehameha’s third victim in three days, and second to win its league. Only the Buffanblu, who dealt Kamehameha two losses in the regular season, remain.
Kamehameha minimized the damage inflicted by Moanalua’s big gun, 6-foot-4 senior Richard Harpole. Harpole had a team-high 11 kills, but hit just .062 against stacked defense. Na Menehune teammates weren’t able to compensate; Moanalua hit negative 0.68.
"We were hoping for a complete game, but our passing broke down," Moanalua coach Doug Hee said. "Overall we just had one of those bad nights."
Kamehameha hasn’t seemed capable of putting up one of those since stuffing ‘Iolani in the ILH playoff game for a state berth.
First-year coach Kainoa Downing credited Christenson’s leadership and the team’s overall rise in maturity to its recent level of play.
Performing against Punahou, the team’s historic tormentor and winner of 29 boys volleyball state titles, is different. But Kamehameha plans to shut all the past frustrations out of mind.
"Endless wins. How do we deal with that? They walk like champions," Downing said of Punahou. "We’ll see. (We’re) a different team this year. I think we’re ready."
An ILH team will win it all for the 31st straight year. The last non-ILH winner was Roosevelt in 1979.