Kamehameha’s surge from third place in the ILH to league champion in the span of one week was months in the making.
Miles. Pounds. The track and the weight room are second homes to the Warriors, who swept Punahou 25-15, 25-17, 25-16 at a packed Hemmeter Fieldhouse on Friday night to capture the ILH crown. The balance was, again, astounding. It begins and ends, the Warriors say, with the work before practice.
“We’re very proud of our team. We work really hard at practice, on the track, in the weight room and it pulled us through,” said sophomore Maui Robins, who had eight kills and three blocks. “Sometimes we do 1.5, sometimes relay races. Being tired before practice even starts helps us pull through in long matches.”
Endurance and power do matter. Kamehameha played Mid-Pacific on Monday, sweep. Then the Warriors were down 2-0 against ‘Iolani on Tuesday, rallying for a five-set win for the ages despite 41 kills by Raider senior Elena Oglivie. Then came a four-set win at Le Jardin on Wednesday.
“These three matches that we had this week really glued us together as a team,” Robins added.
Senior Bryanne Soares had 37 assists and two aces. Middle Longi Sua-Godinet had eight kills and two blocks in another superior performance in the middle. Devin Kahahawai, another sophomore, led Kamehameha with 14 kills.
“I think it’s just all the effort we put in,” said Kahahawai, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter who sometimes reached high and swung over Punahou’s double blocks.
Senior Keonilei Akana was all over the court. In the back row, she battled alongside libero extraordinaire Tara De Sa for every dig possible from Punahou’s rocket launchers. She brought kills from the left side, the right side, the back row, and found ways to keep any ball in play in and out of the boundaries. On one play, she crashed into the scorer’s table with a mind-blowing dig. That play ended, however, with a lift after her save.
It was enough to wonder if any team in the country would lose some fire, having to swing against Kamehameha’s defense.
“We’ve been working really hard in the gym. We remembered the last time we played Punahou, they were fired up, so playing together was really big for us,” Akana said. “We looked at a lot of tape and reminded ourselves of how they played against us, too. They have a great offense and defense, too. They pick up everything and they have great swings, so just noticing where they were going to swing at the ball, and just being ready for everything.”
It was the best defense by Kamehameha so far. Maybe.
“Umm, probably,” Akana said. “I think we did a great job playing defense today and staying disciplined. I’m so proud of our team. We just played together as a team. That’s our goal for the entire season.”
Coach Chris Blake has guided Kamehameha to nine ILH championships.
“It’s a testament to the work of our girls and our coaches. Our girls did an exceptional job of pushing through and executing today. We’re happy with where we’re at, but we know our job’s not done. It’s just another step in the process. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a good week of practice and get this going for our state tournament,” Blake said.
The state tourney begins on Oct. 21. Kamehameha will have a first-round bye and play on Oct. 24.