For a set, the Kalaheo Mustangs were the magnificent Mustangs.
They took almost every haymaker the top-seeded ‘Iolani Raiders could throw, but the ILH champions eked out the win in the first set, then rolled to a 25-19, 25-7, 25-18 victory in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships at Moanalua gym.
‘Iolani (13-4) will face Punahou or Moanalua in the final on Saturday night at Blaisdell Center.
The serve of junior outside hitter Kupono Browne triggered a second-set run that Kalaheo couldn’t overcome. It also made defense much more efficient for the Raiders, who keyed on Kalaheo’s talented hitters, Liam York and Tyler Wemple. OIA runner-up Kalaheo (14-2) hit .259 in the opening set, but hit just minus-.053 in the second and .000 in the third.
“We had a plan coming in to defend Liam and Tyler. I don’t think we executed that well in the beginning,” ‘Iolani coach Jordan Inafuku said. “When we serve better, it makes it simpler to defend and we kind of got the hang of it. We sided out really well and that puts a lot of pressure on the other team.”
We thought we were lined up in the right places, but we didn’t really do a good job in the beginning. We did a better job as the match went on,” Inafuku said.
With Carter Kamana — who had five blocks — Makani Hiltner and Kilo Scanlan active at the net, the air-tight Raiders defense took care of the rest. Lee had three blocks and Hiltner added two.
“Jarin (Simon), Kupono, Kawika and Tyler (Heely) did a good job controlling our serve-receive. They’re just making great defensive plays, reaction play. We’ve been working on making that defensive play, then being real aggressive in transition. It worked real well tonight,” Inafuku said.
Shane Harimoto dished 37 assists as ‘Iolani went from a .425 hitting percentage in set one to .737 and .385 in the last two games.
“Whenever we’re serving and playing defense, if we have an opportunity to score a point, swing hard and high and try and get a point,” Harimoto said. “Our outsides, especially, were going hard at the block, getting kills. Kupono and and Jarin were getting super long runs. Serving is something we practice a lot, too, so it’s good for it to show up in the game, too.”
The Raiders stayed for part of the other semifinal between OIA champion Moanalua and Punahou.
“It’s going to be a great match tomorrow no matter who we play. We’re prepared for both of them,” Inafuku said. “We’ve watched Moanalua quite a bit. They’ve got some incredible attackers (Max Slaughter and DiAeris McRaven), and a lot more than the two hitters. They spread the ball and they pass the ball, and they have a great setter to distribute the ball. Their two hitters are top notch.”
‘Iolani has not played Moanalua yet this season, but faced Punahou five times. Punahou won the first two, but the Raiders took the last three, including the ILH championship match on Apr. 23 in four sets.
“We’ve played so many times. I think we’re getting the hang of what we do. I’m hoping we’ve learned a lot from the last three (matches) and I’m hoping we can play at that level again,” Inafuku said.
Lee is a throwback to years when ‘Iolani had all-state caliber athletes in volleyball and basketball. The senior-heavy Raiders are poised for any obstacle.
“It’s just the work we’ve put in, how much we’ve grown through the season,” he said. “I’m excited to see what we can do tomorrow.”
|1||April 29||Hilo vs. Leilehua||Hilo 25-17, 19-25, 25-22, 25-16||Hilo|
|2||April 29||Kalaheo vs. Farrington||Kalh 25-14, 25-18, 25-16||Kalaheo|
|3||April 29||Lahainaluna vs. Mililani||Mil 25-19, 25-23, 25-10||Lahainaluna|
|4||April 29||Punahou vs. Castle||Pun 25-9, 25-15, 25-19||Punahou|
|5||May 2||(3) KS-Hawaii vs. Punahou||Pun 25-6, 25-14, 25-19||Radford|
|6||May 2||(2) Moanalua vs. Mililani||Moan 25-17, 25-9, 22-25, 25-22||Radford|
|7||May 2||(4) KS-Maui vs. Kalaheo||Kalh 25-13, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20||Moanalua|
|8||May 2||(1) 'Iolani vs. Hilo||Iol 25-14, 25-15, 25-23||Moanalua|
|9*||May 3||KS-Maui vs. Hilo||Hilo, 2-1||Radford|
|10*||May 3||KS-Hawaii vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||Radford|
|11||May 3||Kalaheo vs. 'Iolani||Iol 25-19, 25-7, 25-18||Moanalua|
|12||May 3||Punahou vs. Moanalua||Pun 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 15-5||Moanalua|
|13*||May 4||Hilo vs. Mililani||Mil 18-25, 25-21, 16-14||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||May 4||Kalaheo vs. Moanalua||Kalh 25-14, 25-21||Blaisdell Arnea|
|15||May 4||'Iolani vs. Punahou||7 p.m.||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|
|1||May 2||(4) Seabury Hall vs. Makua Lani||SH 25-21, 25-18, 25-27, 25-18||St. Francis|
|2||May 2||(1) St. Francis vs. Nanakuli||StF 25-19, 25-13, 28-26||St. Francis|
|3||May 2||(2) Kapaa vs. Hawaii Prep||Kapa 25-19, 25-21, 25-19||Kalani|
|4||May 2||(3) Pearl City vs. University||ULS 25-21, 25-21, 25-21||Kalani|
|5*||May 3||Nanakuli vs. Makua Lani||ML, 2-1||Kalani|
|6*||May 3||Hawaii Prep vs. Pearl City||HPA, 2-0||Kalani|
|7||May 3||St. Francis vs. Seabury Hall||StF 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 26-24||St. Francis|
|8||May 3||Kapaa vs. University||Kap 25-20, 25-19, 25-18||St. Francis|
|9*||May 4||Makua Lani vs. Hawaii Prep||ML 26-24, 25-20||Blaisdell Arena|
|10*||May 4||University vs. Seabury Hall||ULS 25-19, 24-26, 15-13||Blaisdell Arena|
|11||May 4||Kapaa vs. St. Francis||StF 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-12||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|