Devin Kahahawai smashed 10 kills and Maui Robins tallied seven kills, an ace and a block as Kamehameha fought off Le Jardin 25-21, 25-19 on Saturday in the ILH season opener for both teams.
“I think first-game jitters was really high for us especially because besides me and Devin, it’s kind of like a whole new team, but it’s fun, too, playing with a whole new team and do good out there,” Robins said. “We just needed to get warmed up in the beginning and look at all their servers and how their serve, and then we got it.”
Kanoe Lindo and Adrianna Arquette added three kills each. Five Warriors had at least one ace, including two by setter Kahiau Ka‘alele.
“We just started to trust each other more. We know what we’re capable of and what we’re able to do. We looked to each other for comfort and that helped us a lot,” Ka‘alele said. “Out of 10, my serve today was maybe a 6 or 7.”
Gennezia Hawkins had eight kills to lead Le Jardin. Reese Diersbock had five kills and a block, and Sydnee Walker tallied three kills, two blocks and two aces. Setter Nive Tuileta finished with 16 assists and Alishya Roman had two aces.
Le Jardin Coach Lee Lamb sees potential on the floor.
“You know, I got mixed feelings. I’m glad we got in the gym. I’m not excited about the result. We had moments. We started off really good and then, just the accumulation of small stuff. That’s encouraging because that can be improved,” he said. “I think we have the horses, it’s a matter of sorting out the details.”
Kamehameha has won 10 state titles under Chris Blake.
“We’re super stoked to have the opportunity. The class of 2021 has been through a lot, not only within our gym, but everywhere. Today was a culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people, both within our athletic administration and our league, as well as the state. Without everybody doing what they’re supposed to be doing, this would have never have happened,” Blake said.
“That deep breath, it’s been about 15, 18 months since we’ve done anything together, it’s a huge step. It’s a good first step for us. The pandemic has taught us you’ve got to be ready to go, ready to make adjustments because sometimes, you can’t control stuff,” Blake added.
An empty Kekuhaupio Gymnasium, per COVID-19 restrictions, had plenty of bang-bang action as the visiting Bulldogs jumped to a 5-1 lead after an ace by Walker. The home team rallied against the tough serve of LJA, and there were two lead changes in the opening set.
“We just stayed calm. Coach Chris told us to always stay calm and collected, encouraging everyone on the court, and we got through that,” Robins said.
Le Jardin led 13-12 on a kill by Hawkins, who had six in the opening set. From there, Kamehameha’s back row got more consistent. Kills by Lindo and Arquette kept the rally going, and after a block and a kill by Robins, the Warriors had a 23-19 lead.
Kahahawai had eight kills in the second game to power Kamehameha. Le Jardin was within 20-18 after a right-side kill by Diersbock, but the Warriors got two kills from Kahahawai and one from middle Moana Peaua to close the match with a 5-1 mini-run.
“Our work was good, but Le Jardin played amazing. For us to do the things we had to do, it was really tough. Hat’s off to them to coming in and putting in work,” Blake said.
Though there were no preseason games or tournaments, Kamehameha was sharp at serve. In addition to Ka‘alele, Jenesis Rios, Payton Oliveira, Lindo and Robins tallied aces.
“We’re really happy how we were back there on the service line. We put in some work on it, but not nearly as much (as usual). For us to get a lot of production like that, it was a positive for us,” Blake said. “In our process, Le Jardin came out fired up. They put us into a lot of tough spots. They ran out to a pretty big lead. We were able to settle things down and we were able to solidify our serve-receive work and our first touch, and they began to get a little more comfortable. We’re really proud of the way our scholar-athletes adjusted to the challenges we saw on the other side. We did a lot of good things. We got it on tape and we’ll change things up to make sure we’re doing things better the next time we get on the court.”
Coach Blake thought about his leaders, as well as volleyball players across the islands.
“I’m really happy for our seniors, who have been through so much. They’re representing their schools not only in our program, but all over the league. It has been a blessing,” he said. “It’s tough for everybody else who is not going to do it, but what we can do is represent everybody out there and show it’s possible, if we can make it work.”
Next up is a drive to Punahou on Thursday in a clash of titans.
“I think the team is really excited to play them because they’re a really good team. We’re excited for the competition and we’re very excited to play together,” Ka‘alele said.
Robins knows the Kamehameha-Punahou battles well.
“I think that I’m super excited, kind of anxious to get on there because we went to the (state) championship with them last season. We know what we’re going up against. It’s all about how we approach it,” she said. “All about how we can help the new people on the team, help encourage them. Shout out to my team. Thank you for being there for me. I’m excited to see where we go.”
Kahahawai, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, was patient on Saturday. Punahou will know what to expect from her.
“For us, every game means the same and we’re not going to take any team lightly. We look at all of them the same way,” she said. “We’re just going to get back in the gym and like Coach Chris said, these next three practices are going to be better practices than the last three practices.”
Note: Adds LJA Coach Lee Lamb, 5:15 p.m.