Epic win over ‘Iolani gives Moanalua a chance

Moanalua players celebrated their four-set win over 'Iolani to clinch a berth in the Division I state final. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

The last time Moanalua got this deep, Punahou broke their hearts.

Na Menehune are back in the final of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships and Punahou awaits again. Two years ago, the teams met for the title and Punahou swept a Moanalua squad led by All-State player of the year Austin Matautia.

On Saturday night, Moanalua gets another shot against the unbeaten Buffanblu (15-0). Moanalua is no slouch, seeded second, just like 2016. Punahou is otherworldly, a combination of skill and toughness, finesse and power. Six-time defending champion. Winner of 35 boys volleyball state titles. Who beats a program as finely crafted as Punahou? Maybe Moanalua, which has never won a state title in boys volleyball.

“There’s always a chance. If we stay with our serve, force them to make plays they’re not used to,” Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting said.

Na Menehune (15-0) reached this year’s final by ousting ILH runner-up ‘Iolani in an epic 25-15, 33-35, 29-27, 26-24 semifinal win on Friday night at Moanalua gym.

They did it with great defense, allowing just two aces to an ‘Iolani squad that peppered Kamehameha-Maui with 12 just one day earlier. Moanalua also did it with inner resolve, overcoming a second-set loss that included a combined 101 swings by the teams.

In fact, the Raiders were buoyed by the incredible rally, trailing 23-19 at one point in that second game before Cole Hogland (23 kills) put it away. The Raiders jumped to a considerable lead in the second game. Moanalua’s noisy crowd went practically silent.

“I thought we had that second set,” Cabanting said. “We got a lot of senior leadership. It was all mental. They knew what they had to do. There was no panic. We’d been serving well thought the season, so we had to trust in that.”

In game three, the Raiders led 17-13 and 22-20, but just couldn’t close the door. Kainoa Ferguson had two huge blocks to tie the game, then give Moanalua a lead. He also had a roll shot to give Moanalua a 25-24 lead as they went on to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Moanalua’s DiAeris McRaven blocked the attack of ‘Iolani’s Ryan Van Cantfort in the first set of a semifinal match on Friday. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

‘Iolani had leads of 6-1, 11-4, 21-17 in game fourth. Moanalua simply would not quit, and after middle Duncan Clark pounded an overpass by the Raiders, it was tied at 22. It was ‘Iolani, not Moanalua, that seemed a bit fatigued as the home team won game ball on a hitting error.

It was a chess match from the start between Cabanting and his counterpart, Raiders coach Jordan Inafuku. ‘Iolani put one of their best blockers, Hogland, outside to slow down Max Slaughter (15 kills) and Kala‘i Leopoldo (16 kills), but that loosened up the middle. Sophomore DiAeris McRaven came up with 10 kills and six blocks, and now he is a major x-factor.

Moanalua finished with the edge in hitting (.296 to .243), aces (3-2) and blocks (9-6). Moanalua had 16 service errors to ‘Iolani’s 12.

Playing at home in the semifinals of the state tourney. It doesn’t get much better.

“I was blocking out the noise,” Leopoldo said. “But I could hear everyone yelling.”

Cabanting credited the spirit of his bench for Moanalua’s inner fortitude.

“A big part of our bench is Sili (Coffin). He has so much energy, he leads our cheers,” the longtime coach said. “I’ve said before, when he graduates, I don’t know who’s going to take over for him.”

Moanalua: the past decade
>> 2017: OIA runner-up. Lost to #1 Punahou, quarterfinals, three sets.

>> 2016: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #1 Punahou, finals, three sets.

>> 2015: OIA champion, HHSAA #3 seed. Lost to #2 KS-Hawaii, semifinals, four sets.

>> 2014: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #3 KS-Hawaii, semifinals, five sets.

>> 2013: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to Kamehameha, semifinals, four sets.

>> 2012: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #3 KS-Hawaii, semifinals, five sets.

>> 2011: OIA champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to Kamehameha, semifinals, three sets.

>> 2010: OIA D-II champion, HHSAA #2 seed. Lost to #3 Seabury Hall, semifinals, three sets.

>> 2009: OIA D-II champion, HHSAA #4 seed. Lost to #1 HBA, semifinals, three sets.

>> 2008: did not qualify for states.

Division I

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1April 30Mililani vs. MauiMil 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 25-17Maui
2April 30Waipahu vs. KaiserWaip 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 18-25, 16-14Kaiser
3April 30KS-Hawaii vs. WaianaeKSH 25-27, 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 18-16KS-Hawaii
4April 30'Iolani vs. KapoleiIol 25-17, 25-9, 25-21'Iolani
5May 3(4) KS-Maui vs. 'IolaniIol 25-21, 25-17, 25-16McKinley
6May 3(2) Moanalua vs. KS-HawaiiMoan 25-15, 25-21, 25-9McKinley
7May 3(4) Kealakehe vs. WaipahuKeal 25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 25-14Moanalua
8May 3(1) Punahou vs. MililaniPun 25-12, 25-21, 25-10Moanalua
9*May 4KS-Maui vs. KS-HawaiiKSM 25-23, 26-24McKinley
10*May 4Waipahu vs. MililaniMil 23-25, 27-25, 15-10McKinley
11May 4'Iolani vs. MoanaluaMoan 25-15, 33-35, 29-27, 26-24Moanalua
12May 4Kealakehe vs. PunahouPun 25-13, 25-15, 22-25, 25-14Moanalua
13*May 5KS-Maui vs. MililaniMaui 23-25, 26-24, 15-11Blaisdell Arena
14*May 5'Iolani vs. KealakeheIol 25-18, 25-22Blaisdell Arnea
15May 5Moanalua vs. PunahouPun 25-19, 25-16, 25-21Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation

Division II

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1May 3(4) Hawaii Prep vs. Pearl CityPC 25-23, 25-23, 25-19St. Francis
2May 3(1) Kapaa vs. UniversityKap 25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 19-25, 15-8St. Francis
3May 3(2) St. Francis vs. KonawaenaStF 25-17, 25-17, 25-21Kalani
4May 3(3) Molokai vs. KalaniMol 25-23, 17-25, 25-19, 27-29, 15-10Kalani
5*May 4University vs. Hawaii PrepHPA 28-26, 21-25, 15-8Kalani
6*May 4Konawaena vs. KalaniKaln 23-25, 26-24, 15-7Kalani
7May 4Kapaa vs. Pearl CityKap 25-19, 26-24, 25-14St. Francis
8May 4St. Francis vs. MolokaiStF 25-22, 15-25, 27-25, 21-25, 16-14St. Francis
9*May 5Hawaii Prep vs. KalaniHPA, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10Blaisdell Arena
10*May 5Pearl City vs. MolokaiPC 25-22, 25-17Blaisdell Arena
11May 5Kapaa vs. St. FrancisStF, 15-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-12Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


  1. PublicSchool May 5, 2018 6:16 am

    Curious. How did Moanalua score a “home court advantage”? Or was that pre-determined and Moanalua just lucked out? Awesome game between both teams.

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