‘Iolani seeks some 2016 pizzazz in state final

The 'Iolani Raiders celebrated their state Division I semifinal victory over Mililani on Friday night at the McKinley High gym. Darryl Oumi / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

‘Iolani is certainly an underdog in tonight’s Division I finale against Kamehameha in the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships.

The Raiders (12-5) are 1-4 against the Warriors (14-1) this season, and ‘Iolani also lost to them in three sets in the state final a year ago.

But the Raiders do have a few things going for them in Saturday’s matchup at 7 p.m. at Blaisdell Arena.

They have Elena Oglivie, who, without taking out a radar gun, appears to be the hardest and most complete hitter in the state. She also knows when to tone it down, landing the ball with a soft touch. She’s only a junior and she won Honolulu Star-Advertiser player of the year honors during a run to the state championship during her freshman year two years ago.

They also have the famous “one-team” mantra that could get them to the promised land.

That’s not to say that Kamehameha is any less of a complete team. They certainly are. They have all the pieces and they also play as one unit. If there is one critical position where the teams don’t mirror each other, it’s at middle, where Kamehameha has the dangerous Braelyn Akana and ‘Iolani has the highly capable defensive presence of Sasha Petticord.

But one story line that the proverbial ticket sellers could advertise is: Can ‘Iolani’s one-team” mind-set catapult the underdogs?

“We’re super excited and have been preparing for Kamehamaeha, our rivals who we’ve been back and forth with all season,” ‘Iolani libero Grace Wee said after the Raiders’ three-set semifinal win over Mililani on Friday night at the McKinley High gym. “This game is going to be able to show how far we’ve traveled from the beginning of the season to this last game in the state championship.”

Wee was a sophomore on the the Raiders’ 2016 team that defeated Kamehameha in the state final and a junior last season when the Warriors got the koa trophy back.

“That (2016) was crazy a experience, winning that,” Wee said. “I have a bunch of close friends, like (2017 Star-Advertiser player of the year) Saige Kaahaaina-Torres — who is at the University of Utah right now — who were seniors on that team. They set a huge example for us, showing us the determination and mentality you need to win that type of game. ‘Iolani cultivates such a one-team spirit and philosophy that we all work together as an entire unit. That is special in our case compared to a lot of other schools. I think that is what really separates us and it what separated us in my sophomore year.”

Wee went on to say that ‘Iolani’s chances are based on if the “cultivation” of that one-team focus comes to its complete fruition Saturday night.

Warriors veterans Braelyn and Keonilei Akana, Malie McClure, Lexis Akeo, Kalina Obrey and Paris Oliveira have different plans. They are trying to bring Kamehameha a 22nd state championship and fourth in the last six years. And Chris Blake is going for his 10th state crown as the Warriors’ coach. His first one came in 2005.

Keonilei Akana had 15 kills and McClure had 11 against Kahuku, and Akeo had 32 assists.

Oglivie supplied the power in ‘Iolani’s semifinal win over Mililani, with 15 kills and 17 digs. Petticord was in on five blocks, Kristen McDaniel had 29 assists, and the Raiders also got nine kills from Izzy Sakoda and four block assists and five aces from Mokihana Tufono.

“Izzy is a solid force, she’s been the counter-balance to Elena,” Raiders coach Kainoa Obrey said. “We expected a lot of her this year and she is stepping up to that challenge. Our freshman, Mokihana, brings a lot of energy and plays physical and strong. Grace stepped in for the injured Naya Dong at libero and has handled that position well.”

For anyone looking for an indication (aside from the scoreboard) of how the match is going Saturday night, take a look at setters Akeo and McDaniel. The way they have the offense flowing may be the difference-making factor.

HHSAA D-I State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Oct. 22Waianae vs. KS-HawaiiKSH 17-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20, 16-14KS-Hawaii
2Oct. 22Moanalua vs. KS-MauiMoan 25-8, 25-20, 25-18KS-Maui
3Oct. 22Farrington vs. KahukuKah 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-12Kahuku
4Oct. 22'Iolani vs. KapoleiIol 25-19, 25-15, 25-16'Iolani
5Oct. 25(4) Hilo vs. KahukuKah 25-12, 25-23, 25-19McKinley
6Oct. 25(1) Kamehameha vs. MoanaluaKSK 25-16, 25-12, 25-17McKinley
7Oct. 25(2) Mililani vs. KS-HawaiiMil 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17Moanalua
8Oct. 25(3) King Kekaulike vs. 'IolaniIol 25-18, 22-25, 25-12, 25-8Moanalua
9*Oct. 26Hilo vs. MoanaluaMoan 25-22, 25-22Moanalua
10*Oct. 26KS-Hawaii vs. King KekaulikeKSH 25-22, 27-25Moanalua
11Oct. 26Mililani vs. 'IolaniIol 25-17, 25-20, 25-14McKinley
12Oct. 26Kahuku vs. KamehamehaKSK 25-16, 25-22, 25-9McKinley
13*Oct. 27Moanalua vs. KS-HawaiiKSH 21-25, 25-13, 16-14Blaisdell Arena
14*Oct. 27Mililani vs. KahukuMil 25-27, 25-18, 15-4Blaisdell Arena
15Oct. 27'Iolani vs. KamehamehaIol 25-23, 25-21, 25-18Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation

HHSAA D-II State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Oct. 24Konawaena vs. Sacred HeartsSH 25-7, 25-15, 25-12St. Francis
2Oct. 24(5) Waimea vs. HanaWaim 25-13, 14-25, 25-12, 25-16St. Francis
3Oct. 24Damien vs. Hawaii PrepDMS 25-13, 25-6, 25-8Kaimuki
4Oct. 24Leilehua vs. Le JardinLJA 25-14, 25-12, 25-17Kaimuki
5*Oct. 25Konawaena vs. HanaHana 27-25, 25-21St. Francis
6*Oct. 25Hawaii Prep vs. LeilehuaLei 25-16, 20-25, 15-5Kaimuki
7Oct. 25(4) Kaiser vs. WaimeaWaim 25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-13St. Francis
8Oct. 25(1) Mid-Pacific vs. Sacred HeartsSH 25-12, 25-19, 7-25, 25-19St. Francis
9Oct. 25(3) Kohala vs. DamienDMS 25-11, 25-11, 25-19Kaimuki
10Oct. 25(2) Seabury Hall vs. Le JardinLJA 25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15Kaimuki
11*Oct. 26Hana vs. LeilehuaHana 18-25, 25-20, 15-10Kaimuki
12*Oct. 26Kaiser vs. Mid-PacificMPI 25-21, 25-19Kaimuki
13*Oct. 26Kohala vs. Seabury HallSH 25-16, 25-22Kaimuki
14Oct. 26Damien vs. Le JardinLeJ 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17St. Francis
15Oct. 26Waimea vs. Sacred HeartsSH 25-22, 25-12, 25-16St. Francis
16*Oct. 27Mid-Pacific vs. Seabury HallMPI 15-25, 25-17, 15-7Blaisdell Arena
17*Oct. 27Damien vs. WaimeaDMS 25-9, 25-17Blaisdell Arena
18Oct. 27Le Jardin vs. Sacred HeartsSH 19-25, 26-24, 25-13, 25-17Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation

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