The last time Moanalua got this deep, Punahou broke their hearts.
Na Menehune are back in the final of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships and Punahou awaits again. Two years ago, the teams met for the title and Punahou swept a Moanalua squad led by All-State player of the year Austin Matautia.
On Saturday night, Moanalua gets another shot against the unbeaten Buffanblu (15-0). Moanalua is no slouch, seeded second, just like 2016. Punahou is otherworldly, a combination of skill and toughness, finesse and power. Six-time defending champion. Winner of 35 boys volleyball state titles. Who beats a program as finely crafted as Punahou? Maybe Moanalua, which has never won a state title in boys volleyball.
“There’s always a chance. If we stay with our serve, force them to make plays they’re not used to,” Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting said.
Na Menehune (15-0) reached this year’s final by ousting ILH runner-up ‘Iolani in an epic 25-15, 33-35, 29-27, 26-24 semifinal win on Friday night at Moanalua gym.
They did it with great defense, allowing just two aces to an ‘Iolani squad that peppered Kamehameha-Maui with 12 just one day earlier. Moanalua also did it with inner resolve, overcoming a second-set loss that included a combined 101 swings by the teams.
In fact, the Raiders were buoyed by the incredible rally, trailing 23-19 at one point in that second game before Cole Hogland (23 kills) put it away. The Raiders jumped to a considerable lead in the second game. Moanalua’s noisy crowd went practically silent.
“I thought we had that second set,” Cabanting said. “We got a lot of senior leadership. It was all mental. They knew what they had to do. There was no panic. We’d been serving well thought the season, so we had to trust in that.”
In game three, the Raiders led 17-13 and 22-20, but just couldn’t close the door. Kainoa Ferguson had two huge blocks to tie the game, then give Moanalua a lead. He also had a roll shot to give Moanalua a 25-24 lead as they went on to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
‘Iolani had leads of 6-1, 11-4, 21-17 in game fourth. Moanalua simply would not quit, and after middle Duncan Clark pounded an overpass by the Raiders, it was tied at 22. It was ‘Iolani, not Moanalua, that seemed a bit fatigued as the home team won game ball on a hitting error.
It was a chess match from the start between Cabanting and his counterpart, Raiders coach Jordan Inafuku. ‘Iolani put one of their best blockers, Hogland, outside to slow down Max Slaughter (15 kills) and Kala‘i Leopoldo (16 kills), but that loosened up the middle. Sophomore DiAeris McRaven came up with 10 kills and six blocks, and now he is a major x-factor.
Moanalua finished with the edge in hitting (.296 to .243), aces (3-2) and blocks (9-6). Moanalua had 16 service errors to ‘Iolani’s 12.
Playing at home in the semifinals of the state tourney. It doesn’t get much better.
“I was blocking out the noise,” Leopoldo said. “But I could hear everyone yelling.”
Cabanting credited the spirit of his bench for Moanalua’s inner fortitude.
“A big part of our bench is Sili (Coffin). He has so much energy, he leads our cheers,” the longtime coach said. “I’ve said before, when he graduates, I don’t know who’s going to take over for him.”
Moanalua: the past decade
>> 2017: OIA runner-up. Lost to #1 Punahou, quarterfinals, three sets.
>> 2016: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #1 Punahou, finals, three sets.
>> 2015: OIA champion, HHSAA #3 seed. Lost to #2 KS-Hawaii, semifinals, four sets.
>> 2014: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #3 KS-Hawaii, semifinals, five sets.
>> 2013: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to Kamehameha, semifinals, four sets.
>> 2012: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #3 KS-Hawaii, semifinals, five sets.
>> 2011: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to Kamehameha, semifinals, three sets.
>> 2010: OIA D-II champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #3 Seabury Hall, semifinals, three sets.
>> 2009: OIA D-II champion, HHSAA #4 seed. Lost to #1 HBA, semifinals, three sets.
>> 2008: did not qualify for states.
|1||April 30||Mililani vs. Maui||Mil 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 25-17||Maui|
|2||April 30||Waipahu vs. Kaiser||Waip 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 18-25, 16-14||Kaiser|
|3||April 30||KS-Hawaii vs. Waianae||KSH 25-27, 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 18-16||KS-Hawaii|
|4||April 30||'Iolani vs. Kapolei||Iol 25-17, 25-9, 25-21||'Iolani|
|5||May 3||(4) KS-Maui vs. 'Iolani||Iol 25-21, 25-17, 25-16||McKinley|
|6||May 3||(2) Moanalua vs. KS-Hawaii||Moan 25-15, 25-21, 25-9||McKinley|
|7||May 3||(4) Kealakehe vs. Waipahu||Keal 25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 25-14||Moanalua|
|8||May 3||(1) Punahou vs. Mililani||Pun 25-12, 25-21, 25-10||Moanalua|
|9*||May 4||KS-Maui vs. KS-Hawaii||KSM 25-23, 26-24||McKinley|
|10*||May 4||Waipahu vs. Mililani||Mil 23-25, 27-25, 15-10||McKinley|
|11||May 4||'Iolani vs. Moanalua||Moan 25-15, 33-35, 29-27, 26-24||Moanalua|
|12||May 4||Kealakehe vs. Punahou||Pun 25-13, 25-15, 22-25, 25-14||Moanalua|
|13*||May 5||KS-Maui vs. Mililani||Maui 23-25, 26-24, 15-11||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||May 5||'Iolani vs. Kealakehe||Iol 25-18, 25-22||Blaisdell Arnea|
|15||May 5||Moanalua vs. Punahou||Pun 25-19, 25-16, 25-21||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|
|1||May 3||(4) Hawaii Prep vs. Pearl City||PC 25-23, 25-23, 25-19||St. Francis|
|2||May 3||(1) Kapaa vs. University||Kap 25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 19-25, 15-8||St. Francis|
|3||May 3||(2) St. Francis vs. Konawaena||StF 25-17, 25-17, 25-21||Kalani|
|4||May 3||(3) Molokai vs. Kalani||Mol 25-23, 17-25, 25-19, 27-29, 15-10||Kalani|
|5*||May 4||University vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA 28-26, 21-25, 15-8||Kalani|
|6*||May 4||Konawaena vs. Kalani||Kaln 23-25, 26-24, 15-7||Kalani|
|7||May 4||Kapaa vs. Pearl City||Kap 25-19, 26-24, 25-14||St. Francis|
|8||May 4||St. Francis vs. Molokai||StF 25-22, 15-25, 27-25, 21-25, 16-14||St. Francis|
|9*||May 5||Hawaii Prep vs. Kalani||HPA, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10||Blaisdell Arena|
|10*||May 5||Pearl City vs. Molokai||PC 25-22, 25-17||Blaisdell Arena|
|11||May 5||Kapaa vs. St. Francis||StF, 15-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-12||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|