The match was nearly over when Punahou’s Micah Ma’a leapt over his teammates on the bench to chase down a ball.
The Buffanblu’s top hitter was simply following the team’s instructions for the New City Nissan/HHSAA State Volleyball Championships.
"Our speech was to play as hard as we can play," Ma’a said after his top-seeded Buffanblu swept Waianae 25-10, 25-10, 25-15 in Saturday’s Division I quarterfinal at Moanalua.
"I wanted to show the boys that you still got to go as hard as you can."
Three-time state champion Punahou (15-0) will face King Kekaulike (13-2) in Friday’s semifinals at Moanalua, a rematch of last year’s state semifinal. Ma’a, the only man in uniform to play on the last three state championship teams, had 14 kills and just one hitting error to finish with a .772 hitting percentage. Will Stanley had 10 kills and 10 assists for Punahou.
Nayton Kuresa had five kills and Jahren Muliagatele had 12 assists for OIA runner-up Waianae, which finished the season 13-2. Punahou outhit Waianae .551 to .000.
"To get this far (in the season) against the No. 1 team, it was a good experience for us," said Waianae libero Jonah Poe, who had eight digs. "They play at a higher level than us."
The Buffanblu are rested heading the final stretch of the season, having last played on April 20. The focus is tightening up their play.
"The focus is to play our ball and get better at anything we can in the short span," Ma’a said. "We’re not going to remake anything or make big changes, but the little things and see how much points we can grab here and there."
MOANALUA DEF. KAMEHAMEHA 3-2
Following Na Menehune’s 23-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 15-10 win over the Warriors, players walked to both sides of the gym and thanked the fans.
Their noise level on Moanalua’s home court provided the boost to rally for the win.
"When we were at our lowest points, the crowd got our backs, our families got out backs," said Moanalua’s Austin Matautia, who had 35 kills and 13 digs. "Our program was built around family, our team is a family. It was great to see everyone coming out to support us."
Third-seeded Moanalua (15-0) will meet second-seeded Kamehameha-Hawaii in Friday’s semifinals. Karson Cruz had 17 kills and Seyj Engleman had 12 kills in the win.
"Without Karson, we wouldn’t have been able to do this," Matautia said.
KING KEKAULIKE DEF. HILO 3-0
Na Alii will make a second consecutive semifinal appearance after sweeping the Vikings 26-24, 25-21, 25-18 in a match played at KS-Hawaii. Don Thompson had 15 kills and Colton Cowell had 10 kills and six of Na Alii’s 11 aces. Izaiah Manrique had 35 assists for King Kekaulike (13-2).
Justice Lord had 13 kills and Bradley Comilla added 10 for Hilo (13-5).
KS-HAWAII DEF. KALAHEO 3-0
Isaiah Laeha had 10 kills to lead the host Warriors to a 25-10, 25-17, 25-19 win over the Mustangs. Avery Enriques had 10 digs for the Warriors (16-0), who outhit the Mustangs .294 to .000. Daniel Beaton had eight kills for the Mustangs (11-5).
Kahuku def. Lahainaluna 25-22, 25-18
Mililani def. Waipahu 25-21, 25-19