‘Iolani repeats as Ann Kang champions

'Iolani dropped just one set on its way to winning its second straight Ann Kang Invitational. Photo by Jamm Aquino/jaquino@staradvertiser.com

In the middle of a celebratory huddle, an ‘Iolani player let out a shout to sum up the Raiders’ week.

“We did it again!”

It took ‘Iolani 29 years to win the girls volleyball program’s annual preseason tournament and the Raiders claimed a second straight Ann Kang Invitational title on Saturday with a 25-17, 25-16 sweep of Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) in the championship match.

“Definitely sweeter to defend it,” ‘Iolani junior Elena Oglivie said. “Winning it (last year) was good, but coming back stronger when there was maybe a little bit of doubt, it definitely feels good to defend it.”

‘Iolani went 7-0 in pool play, dropping just one set along the way. The Raiders opened their Saturday with a 25-16, 25-19 win over Edison (Calif.) before defeating Mira Costa (Calif.) 25-14, 25-18 in the semifinals. Buchanan, which took ‘Iolani to three sets on Thursday night, had earlier advanced with a 25-21, 25-22 win over Harvard-Westlake.

In the final, the Raiders surged away from Buchanan to take the first set, but fell behind 6-2 in the second, prompting ‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey to call a timeout.

The Raiders then fed Oglivie, the All-State Player of the Year as a freshman, who hammered five kills in a 7-2 ‘Iolani run.

“I’d say it’s a lot of pressure, but I like it,” Oglivie said of taking the bulk of the sets during the comeback. “I like the challenge. My teammates have trust in me and that helped me have confidence to show I can do it.”

Oglivie added five more kills and combined with Cameryn Nagaji and Kristen McDaniel on a triple block before Izzy Sakoda put down the final two kills to secure a second straight Ann Kang title. McDaniel also had an ace in the set and the Raiders’ back-row defense, anchored by Oglivie, Naya Dong and Grace Wee, repeatedly popped up Buchanan shots to extend rallies.

‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey has led the team to back-to-back Ann Kang Invitational titles. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

“Coach Ann Kang started the program … she started his tournament. We’re just fortunate to be able to be a part of that and try to carry along her legacy,” Obrey said. “This tournament is a very high level, a lot of good teams, a lot of good players come out. So it means a lot not only to us and our program but also to our school. So collectively we’re just super proud of our kids.”

The Raiders, who lost to Kamehameha in last year’s state championship match, earned the tournament title after about a week of practice and the tournament annually represents a significant step in the team’s growth process.

“We were down in some sets big throughout the tournament, but just to be able to stay with what we’re trying to do and be consistent was nice to see,” Obrey said.

“It is early, we are looking fairly good right now, but there’s more we can definitely get better at, there’s more we want to be able to do. We want to be more consistent at a high level, but I’m proud of our kids and the way they they fought at tough moments as well as being able to ride the momentum sometimes.”


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