One team had a long 10 days off.
The other was getting its groove back after losing playoff matches last Monday and Wednesday.
Third-ranked Punahou made those 10 days pay off, coming through in the fourth set to overcome No. 7 Kahuku 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21 on Monday night in the opening round of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships. Punahou will meet BIIF champion Kamehameha-Hawaii on Thursday in the quarterfinal round at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium.
Kaia Dunford 21 kills, 3 aces as @GoPuns outlasts @KahukuSports 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21. Punahou will meet BIIF champ @KSHAthletics on Thursday at McKinley. Savannah Taosoga 19 kills for Kahuku. @HawaiiPrepWorld @HHSAAsports #statechampionships pic.twitter.com/2O2U6xNwI0
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) October 22, 2019
Monday’s match was similar to Kahuku’s OIA semifinal battle with Mililani. That night, Kahuku rallied from a 2-0 deficit, won the third set and led the fourth 20-14 before succumbing. This time, they trailed Punahou 2-0, took command in the third set, and buoyed by a large and vocal crowd in red — including Kahuku football coach Sterling Carvalho and many of his players — was right there with the home team. It was 16-all in the fourth game when the unforced errors did Kahuku in. Two service errors, one hitting error and an off-target set by one of the Lady Raiders’ middles.
Through the first three sets, the battle at serve was almost even. Each team had just six service errors. In the fourth, Punahou had no service errors and Kahuku had five. The Buffanblu did it not by taking something off their serve. It was just a matter of all those extra reps during that span of 10 days.
“We knew that we needed to be aggressive with Kahuku. These are fiery hitters,” Punahou coach Tanya Fuamatu-Anderson said. “So if we didn’t get them in out-of-system situations, and they have a strong middle attack — Keau (Kamakeeaina) does a really nice job of spreading out the offense. They were beating us in the middle, more than I wanted. So we worked really hard on our serving, actually, in the practices leading up to this match. We knew we had to keep the pressure on them.”
Kaia Dunford, who led Punahou (11-2) with 21 kills, also had three of her team’s six aces. Setter Chloe Kaahanui, opposite Halo-Elizabeth Yoshiki and outside hitter Madisyn Beirne had one ace apiece.
A preseason scrimmage between the teams helped prepare Punahou for Kahuku’s firepower.
“We definitely felt the heat that Kahuku is known for. We were well aware of Savannah (Taosoga) and all their other guns,” Fuamatu-Anderson said. “We did our best to prepare for Kahuku, but it’s also important that we prepare for our side.”
Punahou’s block had some success, and the back row, with Dunford and libero Katharine Yoshimoto among the Buffanblu providing strong resistance. Ten days since losing in the ILH final against Kamehameha, Punahou looks rejuvenated.
“We had to get creative and keep the kids motivated, but it was kind of good because it allowed us to slow things down,” Fuamatu-Anderson said.
|1||Oct. 21||Moanalua vs. Waianae||Moan 25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 23-25, 15-13||Moanalua|
|2||Oct. 21||Punahou vs. Kahuku||Pun 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21||Punahou|
|3||Oct. 21||Waiakea vs. Kapolei||Kapo 25-15, 25-18, 25-13||Waiakea|
|4||Oct. 21||KS-Maui vs. Le Jardin||LJA 25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 25-14||KS-Maui|
|5||Oct. 24||(4) King Kekaulike vs. Moanalua||Moan 25-17, 25-17, 25-19||Moanalua|
|6||Oct. 24||(1) Kamehameha vs. Kapolei||KSK 25-20, 25-14, 25-20||Moanalua|
|7||Oct. 24||(3) KS-Hawaii vs. Punahou||Pun 25-12, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23||McKinley|
|8||Oct. 24||(2) Mililani vs. Le Jardin||Mil 22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20||McKinley|
|9*||Oct. 25||King Kekaulike vs. Kapolei||Kapo 25-23, 25-16||McKinley|
|10*||Oct. 25||KS-Hawaii vs. Le Jardin||KSH 25-20, 25-22||McKinley|
|11||Oct. 25||Moanalua vs. Kamehameha||KSK 25-22, 25-19, 25-18||Moanalua|
|12||Oct. 25||Punahou vs. Mililani||Pun 25-22, 25-12, 25-20||Moanalua|
|13*||Oct. 26||Kapolei vs. KS-Hawaii||Kapo 25-16, 24-26, 15-8||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||Oct. 26||Moanalua vs. Mililani||Moan 14-25, 28-26, 15-12||Blaisdell Arena|
|15||Oct. 26||Kamehameha vs. Punahou||KSK 21-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-21||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|