The Kamehameha and Punahou girls volleyball teams are warming up and ready to play for the state championship on the Kamehameha-Hawaii campus. Punahou was the first to arrive, getting her after the first set of the third-place game between Moanalua and Mililani. Kamehameha coach Chris Blake walked into the gym 35 minutes later.
The Warriors have won 19 titles overall while the Buffanblu have won nine but Punahou has won the last two.
Punahou and Kamehameha have played in each of the past six state championship matches, with Kamehameha holding a 3-2 lead. It is the fifth meeting between the two teams this year, Kamehameha has won three of them.
Talking to Moanalua coach Tommy Lake before the game, he believes a big key to the match will be what point Kamehameha begins to slow down Punahou’s offense will make most of the difference. Punahou has the edge on offense and Kamehameha has a superior defense, so you know the Buffanblu will come out firing especially after its success in the semifinals against Mililani. It is just a matter of if the Warriors can grind the Buffanblu down and frustrate them.
Kahuku coach Tehani Fiatoa faced both and thinks Kamehameha might have a slight edge because of the tempo of its offense but it will have to counter Punahou’s size and ability to come from behind against the Warriors. Like many here, she expects it to come down to the last point in the fifth set.
“No prediction,” Fiatoa said. “I am just very excited to watch it.”
Both Blake and Punahou coach Tanya Fuamatu-Anderson report that their girls are rested and ready to go. Neither of them claim to have any tricks up their sleeves.
“Our plan is ‘Hard Work,” Fuamatu-Anderson said. “Basic fundamentals, that’s all that we can do.”
The match is 30 minutes away, Punahou players are stretching on one side of the floor and the Kamehameha players haven’t even set foot in the arena yet. Blake and his coaches are just sitting alone on the bench, but he reiterated that the Warriors are ready to go.
6:25: Kamehameha hits the floor to cheers with 23 minutes to go before the match.
6:46: Coaches and captains meeting at the net, Kamehameha pounding the ball in its initial warmup.
6:53: Punahou takes the floor for warmups.
7:03: A little girl finishes the anthems and we are ready for introductions, Punahou first. The Warriors wearing white and the Buffanblu sporting blue.
Set 1: Kamehameha 25, Punahou 19
Tiyana Hallums comes out on fire for Kamehameha with three kills to go with Alohi Robins-Hardy’s two and Kamehameha leads 9-2. McKenna Granato 1-for-3 with two errors. Kamehameha runs out to a 17-9 lead but Punahou rallies behind Kelly Matthews to close it to 17-14 and force Blake to take a rare timeout. The teams are playing even after Kamehameha’s initial shock and awe. The Warriors lead 21-17 as Punahou calls timeout. Granato three kills and three errors along with two service errors, but she is snapping out of it. Kamehameha takes over after the timeout, running the lead to seven and getting to aloha ball before Punahou rallies. Remo Gaogao serves long, though, and Kamehameha takes the first set 25-19. Hallums was a beast in that one, putting down five kills and Robins-Hardy added three. Granato was held to three kills, Punahou has got to be more diverse.
Set 2: Kamehameha 25, Punahou 20
Blake forced to call a timeout early in the second as Punahou runs out to a 5-1 lead. Kea Browne is struggling in the middle in the early going, whiffing on one set and being called for a violation two other times. The Warriors recover after the talk and tie it at five and both teams trade points until Punahou calls timeout down 19-17. Robins-Hardy is dominating at times with six kills in the set. Punahou forced to burn another timeout down 22-19 after kills by Faith Maafala and Hallums. Bad passing is starting to hurt the Buffanblu. The Warriors come out of the timeout in fire, with Hallums adding another kill and Maafala putting the Buffablu away with a little looper that finds the floor in the back corner. The Buffanblu hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament, and now they have lost two in a row. Can they come back?
Set 3: Kamehameha 25, Punahou 15
Punahou takes its first timeout down 16-12, Robins-Hardy is playing the match of her life. Everything she does with the ball seems to turn into a point. Kamehameha is on the verge of breaking Punahou’s string of championships, the Warriors are up 21-15 after another kill by Hallums on a set from Robins-Hardy.
Alohi Robins-Hardy, 13 kills, .385%, 18 assists, 16 digs
Mia Heirakuji, 15 digs
Tiyana Hallums, 12 kills, 10 digs
Faith Ma’afala, 21 assists, 12 digs, seven kills, three block assists
McKenna Rose Granato, 10 kills
Kelly Matthews, 13 digs, five kills
Kiani Tuileta, 18 assists, 11 digs
Shannel Chong, 11 digs