What a treat girls volleyball fans got Thursday night at Kekuhaupio Gym.
No. 1 Kamehameha got past No. 2 ‘Iolani in three sets, but it was no blowout.
All pieces of the game were there for both squads: in-system offense, tight defense with spectacular digs, fine middle hitting and blocking, tenacious outside hitting, smooth setting.
And the difference was seven points — three in the first set and two each in the second and third.
Another difference between the two teams is “one” — as in the ranking in the USA Today Super 25. The Warriors (6-0) and Raiders are Nos. 10 and 11.
“It shows what kind of volleyball we have in Hawaii,” Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said of the national honor. “It’s a great feeling to know we’re being recognized along with some of the best volleyball programs in the nation.”
Thursday’s match ended up a 25-22, 25-23, 28-26 victory for the home team. It went like this:
>> The first set was a coin toss all the way to end, with 12 ties and six lead changes.
>> The second set was ‘Iolani’s to win before a Warriors comeback changed the outcome. In this one, there were four ties and just one lead change.
>> The third set was Kamehameha’s to win before a spirited ‘Iolani rally in which the Raiders took a late lead before losing it. The Raiders were down 21-16, but clawed back for ties at 21, 23, 24, 25 and 26 — along with leads at 22-21, 23-22, and 26-25. There were four lead changes in the set, all after 21-21.
“Our team did a great job coming back and executing and staying with every point,” ‘Iolani setter Kristen McDaniel said.
Added Warriors setter Lexis Akeo: “Both teams played hard, with everyone going after all the balls and many long rallies. It was hard to put the ball away for both sides. We took a deep breath to calm ourselves (late in the third set), focused on staying together and working together to get the next point.”
Overall, including preseason, Kamehameha is 26-1 and ‘Iolani is 18-3. The Warriors also beat the Raiders — 25-22, 20-25, 25-19 — on Sept. 8. They play again for the final time in the regular season on Sept. 29 at ‘Iolani.
The Raiders, who won the Division I state title in 2016, are trying for their first ILH crown since 2015.
Defending D-I state champion Kamehameha is going for its third league championship in a row. The Warriors, who own 21 state titles, haven’t won two in a row since 2009 and 2010 (which finished off a string of six straight).
‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey did not want to comment after the match.