comscore New No. 1-ranked Iolani blazes past Kamehameha | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

New No. 1-ranked Iolani blazes past Kamehameha

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    Iolani’s Sierra Buscher put up a shot against Kamehameha’s Ililani “Ula” Kamaka and Shiloh Pelaras on Tuesday. The Raiders defeated the Warriors in straight sets.

The balance of power has shifted in ILH girls volleyball.

‘Iolani made good on its status as the newly minted top-ranked team in the state with a convincing 25-15, 25-18 home victory over Kamehameha on Tuesday night.

It was the second volleyball titan the Raiders slayed in four days; ‘Iolani went to Punahou and won in straight sets on Saturday.

‘Iolani (5-0) is halfway home for its first state tournament berth since 2007. It will meet the Buffanblu and Warriors — the teams that have had an annual stranglehold on the ILH’s two HHSAA spots — one more time in the league’s first round to settle the matter.

“We’re not happy with ourselves yet,” said Raiders senior setter Bailey Choy, who spread around 23 assists Tuesday. “But we’re glad that we’ve got this far. We’re going to keep on working. I know from the beginning of the season, we had the mind-set that we have to push through. This is our year.”

Choy had a wealth of options to choose from, but she set Sierra Buscher early and often. Buscher had eight of her match-high 10 kills in Set 1, including two during a 7-1 run to seize control of the frame.

‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey noted his middles were able to pull in their Kamehameha counterparts, leaving the edges open for Buscher and Moea Kekauoha (eight kills).

“We gave a lot of freedom to Bailey,” Obrey said. “She understands the game, (has) a good IQ. So she kind of feels it out, that they’re kind of bunching in the middle. … We just happened to be in Sierra’s rotation.”

In Game 2, it went from 11-all to 16-12 ‘Iolani in a hurry when Kamehameha fell into a rut of hitting errors. ‘Iolani had the space it needed to win comfortably.

Third-ranked Kamehameha (3-2) went to its strength, its middles, as often as it could, and got six kills apiece from Kayla Afoa and Brooke Ka‘awa. But it was apparent the Warriors could not match the Raiders in execution this time.

In fact, no one has yet: ‘Iolani has yet to drop a set in ILH play.

Warriors coach Chris Blake said his team failed to capitalize on its opportunities — and nodded at ‘Iolani as the reason why.

“They keep on improving every time they step on the court,” Blake said. “So, for us to make sure we’re hanging in there, we’re going to have to get back in the gym and do a lot more things, because they played very well and they deserved the ‘W’ tonight.”

Punahou and Kamehameha have combined for the last 12 state titles, and 22 of the last 24. The last time ‘Iolani won it all was 2001.

“We definitely like where we’re at right now,” Obrey said. “We’ve experienced that third (ILH) spot and kind of been that odd man out a little bit, and we’re hoping to change that this year for sure. But it’s going to be a dogfight between all three teams.”

‘Iolani and Kamehameha now depart for the Durango Classic in Las Vegas, with play starting Friday.

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