Kahuku junior Rachel Blake understands the responsibility that comes with being the starting setter for the Kahuku girls volleyball team.
“Especially in our community, there’s high expectations from the girls and everyone from Kahuku,” Blake said.
Taking over for the departed Penina Snuka, who is starting as a freshman at Arizona, Blake is the girl at the controls of a potent Kahuku offense that once again is looking to contend for a state championship.
The Red Raiders have dropped only one set in winning their first seven games in the OIA Red East and are currently ranked No. 3 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 behind Kamehameha and Punahou.
Behind Kamehameha and Punahou. It’s a trend Kahuku finally wants to break.
“I think we have a pretty good chance,” Blake said.
Since Kahuku’s last state volleyball championship in 2002, Kamehameha and Punahou have combined to win the next 10.
Kahuku has won the OIA Red championship in four of the last six years and advanced to the state semifinals four times, only to lose to Kamehameha three times and Punahou once.
Last year, the Red Raiders took the Warriors to four sets, narrowly losing 26-24 in the fourth.
Blake has the dynamic Adora Anae, a 6-foot-1 senior currently committed to Utah while still being heavily pursued by the University of Hawaii, as one of the best weapons in the state on the outside.
In a straight-set win over Kailua on Tuesday night, Anae put down five kills in five swings before leaving the match at 13-2 in the first set. By the time Kahuku was in front 18-2, most of the starters were done for good.
Kahuku played its reserves the entire second set as it builds plenty of depth behind a talented starting lineup that includes Blake, Anae, 6-foot junior middle Brittany Waite, 5-foot-11 senior middle Mariah Berard-Kamakeeaina and 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter Sinamoni Tonga.
“It’s good for everyone to get reps,” Blake said. “I feel like I’m getting enough reps too.”