‘Iolani is certainly an underdog in tonight’s Division I finale against Kamehameha in the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships.
The Raiders (12-5) are 1-4 against the Warriors (14-1) this season, and ‘Iolani also lost to them in three sets in the state final a year ago.
But the Raiders do have a few things going for them in Saturday’s matchup at 7 p.m. at Blaisdell Arena.
They have Elena Oglivie, who, without taking out a radar gun, appears to be the hardest and most complete hitter in the state. She also knows when to tone it down, landing the ball with a soft touch. She’s only a junior and she won Honolulu Star-Advertiser player of the year honors during a run to the state championship during her freshman year two years ago.
They also have the famous “one-team” mantra that could get them to the promised land.
That’s not to say that Kamehameha is any less of a complete team. They certainly are. They have all the pieces and they also play as one unit. If there is one critical position where the teams don’t mirror each other, it’s at middle, where Kamehameha has the dangerous Braelyn Akana and ‘Iolani has the highly capable defensive presence of Sasha Petticord.
But one story line that the proverbial ticket sellers could advertise is: Can ‘Iolani’s one-team” mind-set catapult the underdogs?
“We’re super excited and have been preparing for Kamehamaeha, our rivals who we’ve been back and forth with all season,” ‘Iolani libero Grace Wee said after the Raiders’ three-set semifinal win over Mililani on Friday night at the McKinley High gym. “This game is going to be able to show how far we’ve traveled from the beginning of the season to this last game in the state championship.”
Wee was a sophomore on the the Raiders’ 2016 team that defeated Kamehameha in the state final and a junior last season when the Warriors got the koa trophy back.
“That (2016) was crazy a experience, winning that,” Wee said. “I have a bunch of close friends, like (2017 Star-Advertiser player of the year) Saige Kaahaaina-Torres — who is at the University of Utah right now — who were seniors on that team. They set a huge example for us, showing us the determination and mentality you need to win that type of game. ‘Iolani cultivates such a one-team spirit and philosophy that we all work together as an entire unit. That is special in our case compared to a lot of other schools. I think that is what really separates us and it what separated us in my sophomore year.”
Wee went on to say that ‘Iolani’s chances are based on if the “cultivation” of that one-team focus comes to its complete fruition Saturday night.
Warriors veterans Braelyn and Keonilei Akana, Malie McClure, Lexis Akeo, Kalina Obrey and Paris Oliveira have different plans. They are trying to bring Kamehameha a 22nd state championship and fourth in the last six years. And Chris Blake is going for his 10th state crown as the Warriors’ coach. His first one came in 2005.
Keonilei Akana had 15 kills and McClure had 11 against Kahuku, and Akeo had 32 assists.
Oglivie supplied the power in ‘Iolani’s semifinal win over Mililani, with 15 kills and 17 digs. Petticord was in on five blocks, Kristen McDaniel had 29 assists, and the Raiders also got nine kills from Izzy Sakoda and four block assists and five aces from Mokihana Tufono.
“Izzy is a solid force, she’s been the counter-balance to Elena,” Raiders coach Kainoa Obrey said. “We expected a lot of her this year and she is stepping up to that challenge. Our freshman, Mokihana, brings a lot of energy and plays physical and strong. Grace stepped in for the injured Naya Dong at libero and has handled that position well.”
For anyone looking for an indication (aside from the scoreboard) of how the match is going Saturday night, take a look at setters Akeo and McDaniel. The way they have the offense flowing may be the difference-making factor.
HHSAA D-I State Tournament
|1||Oct. 22||Waianae vs. KS-Hawaii||KSH 17-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20, 16-14||KS-Hawaii|
|2||Oct. 22||Moanalua vs. KS-Maui||Moan 25-8, 25-20, 25-18||KS-Maui|
|3||Oct. 22||Farrington vs. Kahuku||Kah 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-12||Kahuku|
|4||Oct. 22||'Iolani vs. Kapolei||Iol 25-19, 25-15, 25-16||'Iolani|
|5||Oct. 25||(4) Hilo vs. Kahuku||Kah 25-12, 25-23, 25-19||McKinley|
|6||Oct. 25||(1) Kamehameha vs. Moanalua||KSK 25-16, 25-12, 25-17||McKinley|
|7||Oct. 25||(2) Mililani vs. KS-Hawaii||Mil 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17||Moanalua|
|8||Oct. 25||(3) King Kekaulike vs. 'Iolani||Iol 25-18, 22-25, 25-12, 25-8||Moanalua|
|9*||Oct. 26||Hilo vs. Moanalua||Moan 25-22, 25-22||Moanalua|
|10*||Oct. 26||KS-Hawaii vs. King Kekaulike||KSH 25-22, 27-25||Moanalua|
|11||Oct. 26||Mililani vs. 'Iolani||Iol 25-17, 25-20, 25-14||McKinley|
|12||Oct. 26||Kahuku vs. Kamehameha||KSK 25-16, 25-22, 25-9||McKinley|
|13*||Oct. 27||Moanalua vs. KS-Hawaii||KSH 21-25, 25-13, 16-14||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||Oct. 27||Mililani vs. Kahuku||Mil 25-27, 25-18, 15-4||Blaisdell Arena|
|15||Oct. 27||'Iolani vs. Kamehameha||Iol 25-23, 25-21, 25-18||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|
HHSAA D-II State Tournament
|1||Oct. 24||Konawaena vs. Sacred Hearts||SH 25-7, 25-15, 25-12||St. Francis|
|2||Oct. 24||(5) Waimea vs. Hana||Waim 25-13, 14-25, 25-12, 25-16||St. Francis|
|3||Oct. 24||Damien vs. Hawaii Prep||DMS 25-13, 25-6, 25-8||Kaimuki|
|4||Oct. 24||Leilehua vs. Le Jardin||LJA 25-14, 25-12, 25-17||Kaimuki|
|5*||Oct. 25||Konawaena vs. Hana||Hana 27-25, 25-21||St. Francis|
|6*||Oct. 25||Hawaii Prep vs. Leilehua||Lei 25-16, 20-25, 15-5||Kaimuki|
|7||Oct. 25||(4) Kaiser vs. Waimea||Waim 25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-13||St. Francis|
|8||Oct. 25||(1) Mid-Pacific vs. Sacred Hearts||SH 25-12, 25-19, 7-25, 25-19||St. Francis|
|9||Oct. 25||(3) Kohala vs. Damien||DMS 25-11, 25-11, 25-19||Kaimuki|
|10||Oct. 25||(2) Seabury Hall vs. Le Jardin||LJA 25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15||Kaimuki|
|11*||Oct. 26||Hana vs. Leilehua||Hana 18-25, 25-20, 15-10||Kaimuki|
|12*||Oct. 26||Kaiser vs. Mid-Pacific||MPI 25-21, 25-19||Kaimuki|
|13*||Oct. 26||Kohala vs. Seabury Hall||SH 25-16, 25-22||Kaimuki|
|14||Oct. 26||Damien vs. Le Jardin||LeJ 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17||St. Francis|
|15||Oct. 26||Waimea vs. Sacred Hearts||SH 25-22, 25-12, 25-16||St. Francis|
|16*||Oct. 27||Mid-Pacific vs. Seabury Hall||MPI 15-25, 25-17, 15-7||Blaisdell Arena|
|17*||Oct. 27||Damien vs. Waimea||DMS 25-9, 25-17||Blaisdell Arena|
|18||Oct. 27||Le Jardin vs. Sacred Hearts||SH 19-25, 26-24, 25-13, 25-17||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|