comscore Punahou edges 'Iolani | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Punahou edges ‘Iolani

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    Punahou's Carly Kan split 'Iolani's block in Thursday night's win.

After sweeping through the first half of the ILH girls volleyball season, Punahou survived a stern test to open the second.

The Buffanblu responded by turning to senior Tai Manu-Olevao, who hammered a match-high 16 kills and top-ranked Punahou (9-0) edged No. 7 ‘Iolani 25-22, 21-25, 25-21, 25-22 on Thursday at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

After the teams split the first two sets in the best-of-five match, Manu-Olevao hammered 10 kills over the next two sets, including the final two points of the match, and the Buffanblu managed to hold off the upset-minded Raiders.

“I thought those guys played a great match,” Punahou coach Peter Balding said. “We may have struggled at times, but it was directly related to ‘Iolani’s great play, I thought, in all facets.”

Punahou, which clinched a state tournament berth by winning the first round, scored the final three points of the first set to take the early advantage, but ‘Iolani (5-5) rallied in the second behind five kills from Sara Watanabe.

Manu-Olevao was held to two kills in the second set, due in part to scrappy back row defense by the Raiders. But Punahou setter Tayler Higgins fed her early in the third and Manu-Olevao accounted for four of Punahou’s first nine points.

“She’s our emotional leader, she’s a senior, she’s our captain,” Balding said. “I think Tayler felt comfortable just throwing it up there and letting Tai have at it and see what she could do.”

The Buffanblu jumped out to an eight-point lead in the third set, but ‘Iolani setter Loxley Keala put down a kill to spark a six-point run capped by back-to-back aces and the Raiders closed to 15-13.

But Punahou was able to maintain a slim lead and put the game away on two aces by Remo Gaogao.

Punahou again raced out to a sizable lead in the fourth set at 10-3 only to see ‘Iolani catch and pass them at 17-16. The Raiders led 21-20 on middle blocker Haley Robinson’s seventh kill of the match, but two hitting errors gave Punahou the lead back.

Manu-Olevao’s solo block made it 23-21 and, after being called for a lift, she ended the match with her final two kills.

“The start of the games we were giving them an early lead and from there we had to start scrambling back,” ‘Iolani coach Jenic Tumaneng said. “Give credit to Punahou, they served us aggressively. We fought back and we just ran out of points.”

HBA clinches state berth

Hawaii Baptist Academy served up 11 aces and clinched the ILH Division II regular-season title and a state tournament berth with a 25-12, 25-15 victory over St. Francis.

“It’s huge. That’s one of the goals of our team to get there, so it’s good to get that early,” HBA coach Myles Shioji said.

HBA’s Tiffany Thompson led the Eagles (9-0) with six aces, including four in the second set. Jaryn Ramos had two in the first set as HBA jumped out to a 17-4 lead.

“The basic foundation of volleyball is serving and passing. We work on both of those a lot every day and hopefully it carries over into a match and it did today,” Shioji said.

Jedidah Hanakahi and Tyler-Marie Mau had four kills each for St. Francis (8-1).

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