Punahou drops set, empties bench against Kealakehe

Punahou’s Ryan Hong snuck a kill past the block in the second set of a four-set win in the state semifinals against Kealakehe. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

In 41 sets of ILH and state-tourney play, Punahou had won 40.

The only discrepancy on the resume of the six-time defending champion came on Mar. 29, when Maryknoll took a set in Punahou’s four-game win. On Friday night, coach Rick Tune weighed his team’s situation and emptied the bench.

By design, Punahou played reserves exclusively in the second set, kept most of the court occupied by subs in the third and went back to the starting lineup for the fourth in a 25-13, 25-15, 22-25, 25-14 win over BIIF champion Kealakehe in the semifinal round of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships at Moanalua’s gym.

The Buffanblu hit .421 for the match and Kealakehe hit .229. Punahou outblocked the Waveriders 16-3

“The guys gave a great effort tonight. All in all, it was a positive outing,” Tune said as his team improved to 15-0 in regular season and state-tourney play. “We cleaned up a lot of those things that we wanted to clean up from the first match and our second-team guys were able to get some substantial court time.”

The reserve crew was solid against coach Kahinu Lee‘s Waveriders, who have a strong outside hitter in Anthony Trevino (17 kills), one ace. Isaiah Hooper held his own, as well, with 10 kills and two aces. He had five kills and both of the aces in the third set when the ‘Riders extended the match by stifling each rally attempt by the Buffanblu.

A few sideouts after falling behind 10-3 in that third set, Punahou sent starting outside hitter Ryan Wilcox back in. The Buffanblu didn’t regain full momentum until the fourth set.

Punahou outside hitter Ryan Wilcox put down one of his team-high 15 kills against Kealakehe. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

“They performed through set two and just got a little complacent in set three,” Tune said. “It’s a great lesson to learn about how you have to be intentional about every possession. You can’t just be willing to trade points.”

Here’s a look at what Kealakehe did against Punahou’s starters, and then Punahou’s reserves.

Game 1
Punahou hit .550 with just two hitting errors. They had just one ace with four service errors, and just one block. Kealakehe mustered a .056 hitting percentage (four hitting errors) with no aces, one service error and no blocks.

Game 2
The Buffanblu reserves hit .364 with a mere two hitting errors, and outblocked Kealakehe 5-0. The Waveriders hit .000 with four hitting errors, but had a minor edge in aces, 1-0.

Game 3
Here, the effect of Kealakehe’s starting talent was obvious. Trevino had six kills in this set, and with setter Ikaika Pali in a rhythm, Kealakehe gained confidence even as Wilcox entered — and collected nine kills. Wilcox hit .643 in the set while the rest of the Buffanblu hit .222. Kealakehe got the edge in aces, 2-0, and didn’t have a service error, which helped make up the gap. Punahou outblocked Kealakehe again, 4-2.

Game 4
It was almost unfair the way setter Jameson McKibbin could deftly back set to the back row, right side, where Kana‘i Akana swung away with five of his 11 kills. Punahou had four of their five aces in this set — two by McKibbin, one by Davis Lay and one by Akana.

Alaka‘i Todd also got his swings in with three of his five kills in the fourth. McKibbin finished with 25 assists and reserve Alfred Tufono added 16. Claudio Clini was busy with three of his four blocks in the fourth.

To be sure, there was no lobbying even in a joking way by any of Punahou’s starters. With most of them sitting the second and third sets, it was about the mission: getting some rest for starters, getting court time for their second unit, and buying into the game plan.

“We wanted to take a look at our pin block and take a look at cleaning up our back-row defense around it. We felt yesterday we were out of position a number of times. It cost us some points. Some easy freebies,” Tune said, referring to their quarterfinal match against Mililani. “We can’t do that against Moanalua tomorrow.”

Punahou has won 35 boys volleyball state championships, including eight of the past nine under Tune.

Division I

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1April 30Mililani vs. MauiMil 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 25-17Maui
2April 30Waipahu vs. KaiserWaip 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 18-25, 16-14Kaiser
3April 30KS-Hawaii vs. WaianaeKSH 25-27, 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 18-16KS-Hawaii
4April 30'Iolani vs. KapoleiIol 25-17, 25-9, 25-21'Iolani
5May 3(4) KS-Maui vs. 'IolaniIol 25-21, 25-17, 25-16McKinley
6May 3(2) Moanalua vs. KS-HawaiiMoan 25-15, 25-21, 25-9McKinley
7May 3(4) Kealakehe vs. WaipahuKeal 25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 25-14Moanalua
8May 3(1) Punahou vs. MililaniPun 25-12, 25-21, 25-10Moanalua
9*May 4KS-Maui vs. KS-HawaiiKSM 25-23, 26-24McKinley
10*May 4Waipahu vs. MililaniMil 23-25, 27-25, 15-10McKinley
11May 4'Iolani vs. MoanaluaMoan 25-15, 33-35, 29-27, 26-24Moanalua
12May 4Kealakehe vs. PunahouPun 25-13, 25-15, 22-25, 25-14Moanalua
13*May 5KS-Maui vs. MililaniMaui 23-25, 26-24, 15-11Blaisdell Arena
14*May 5'Iolani vs. KealakeheIol 25-18, 25-22Blaisdell Arnea
15May 5Moanalua vs. PunahouPun 25-19, 25-16, 25-21Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation

Division II

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1May 3(4) Hawaii Prep vs. Pearl CityPC 25-23, 25-23, 25-19St. Francis
2May 3(1) Kapaa vs. UniversityKap 25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 19-25, 15-8St. Francis
3May 3(2) St. Francis vs. KonawaenaStF 25-17, 25-17, 25-21Kalani
4May 3(3) Molokai vs. KalaniMol 25-23, 17-25, 25-19, 27-29, 15-10Kalani
5*May 4University vs. Hawaii PrepHPA 28-26, 21-25, 15-8Kalani
6*May 4Konawaena vs. KalaniKaln 23-25, 26-24, 15-7Kalani
7May 4Kapaa vs. Pearl CityKap 25-19, 26-24, 25-14St. Francis
8May 4St. Francis vs. MolokaiStF 25-22, 15-25, 27-25, 21-25, 16-14St. Francis
9*May 5Hawaii Prep vs. KalaniHPA, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10Blaisdell Arena
10*May 5Pearl City vs. MolokaiPC 25-22, 25-17Blaisdell Arena
11May 5Kapaa vs. St. FrancisStF, 15-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-12Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation

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