Patient Kamehameha sweeps ‘Iolani to close in on ILH title

Kamehamaha's Paris Oliveira (No. 1) raised her arms in the air and celebrated with her teammates after sweeping 'Iolani in straight sets. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

So much depth.

So much skill.

So dominant. The Kamehameha Warriors are resilient, too. Five Warriors tallied at least five kills, led by Keonilei Akana’s 18, in a 26-24, 25-20, 25-16 sweep of No. 2 ‘Iolani on Thursday night.

The win leaves the Warriors (12-0) with a 2-0 record in the ILH double-elimination tournament. ‘Iolani will square off with Punahou on Saturday. An ‘Iolani win seals at least second place in the tourney, and would earn the Raiders the league’s second and final state-tournament berth. A Punahou win would put the Buffanblu in position to take the tourney with two wins over Kamehameha.

For now, Kamehameha showed that invincibility is real. The No. 1-ranked team in the Star-Advertiser Girls Volleyball Top 10 was leak-proof and rust-proof despite a strong effort by ‘Iolani. The Raiders got 12 kills from Elena Oglivie and four kills plus seven blocks by Sasha Petticord. Containing Kamehameha’s multiple weapons was too much. The patient Warriors simply stayed in system, played with discipline and wore out the Raiders in each set.

Kamehameha middle Kalina Obrey, a niece of ‘Iolani head coach Kainoa Obrey, was highly efficient in the middle with 11 kills and no hitting errors (.647). Starting middle Braelyn Akana provided consistency on step-out sets from Lexis Akeo (46 assists). Seven of Akana’s kills came on step-outs. ‘Iolani managed to roof her on that right side once. The Raiders were mostly at the mercy of the high-leaping senior.

“We’ve been playing together a long time,” Braelyn Akana said of Akeo’s precise sets. “Four years. The tempo of the sets, it goes out pretty quick. I think people expect me to come through the middle. So when I go through the back, it’s unexpected.”

‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey had one word for Akana on the step-out.

“Terminator,” he said. “It’s tough when you lose, but it is what it is. We made more volleyball plays (than normal), but Kamehameha is really good.”

Warriors freshman Maui Robins (six kills) was steadfast, using her mix of off-speed swings to keep the Raider defense off balance. Chloe Akiona-Bannan added five kills. It was Akeo’s diverse arsenal that made things incredibly hard for the Raiders. And when they had everything covered, Keonilei Akana simply powered through blocks.

“Hammer,” Akeo said.

For Keonilei, Braelyn’s younger sister, hitting a heavy ball is part of a vast skill set. She will be at USC in two years playing libero. Coming to ‘Iolani’s house and sweeping is all business.

“We’re just practicing on our one-play flush. Just working together, pushing. We’ve been getting closer and closer each day we practice, getting better and better as a team,” she said. “I think we’re doing good. In practice, we make sure that each teammate is getting better.”

Akeo, who also had an ace, was error-free.

“It was the same plan as normal. Get in there, do your keys, get your job done and get out,” she said.

Coach Chris Blake’s team won’t play again until Tuesday. One more win clinches the ILH title and a likely top seed in the HHSAA State Championships. Kamehameha is the defending state champion and has won nine state crowns under Blake since 2005.

“We had a hard time with some of the things they were doing to us,” Blake said of the Raiders. “But I really like how our team stayed patient. They stuck with the process and were able to separate when they needed to. We were very lucky to come away with a three-game sweep.”

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