Kamehameha adds to ‘Iolani’s struggles

Kamehameha will play Punahou for the ILH second round title on Friday. Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser
Kamehameha will play Punahou for the ILH second round title on Friday. Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

Kayla Afoa pounded 14 kills, Shiloh Pelaras slammed 13 and Kili Robins tallied 12 as No. 2-ranked Kamehameha swept No. 1 ‘Iolani 25-21, 25-17, 25-21 on Thursday night at the Raiders’ gym.

The win eliminated the Raiders from the second round, but ‘Iolani will play either Punahou or Kamehameha on Saturday for their first ILH title since 2001.

By the end of the first set, Pelaras, a springy 5-foot-10 senior, had four kills and two blocks, and Brooke Ka‘awa had a block of her own. The visitors had a 5-1 kill edge at the middle and pulled away for a four-point game-one win.

“It feels awesome to win, but we can still get better,” Pelaras said. “We’ve worked a lot and worked really hard at practice. I think we still have more to go. I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Back-to-back kills by Afoa, a 5-9 junior, sparked a 5-1 run that broke a 16-all tie.

‘Iolani’s serve-receive game wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as clean as Kamehameha’s. The Warriors had no hitting errors in the second set to the Raiders’ four. The Warriors pulled away with four consecutive points for a 16-12 lead, aided by a missed set and a hitting error. After Cierra Leopoldino’s ace, Kamehameha had momentum.

‘Iolani got no closer than three points the rest of the way. Three more kills by Afoa opened the lead to 21-15, and Pelaras added two more kills down the middle to help the Warriors finish out the second game.

The Raiders went to Saige Kaahaaina-Torres on the right side for a kill to start the third set, and got a kill and a block from Emily Sunada. After kills by Moea Kekauoha (14 kills), and a block and kill by Tatiana Calimpong-Burke, ‘Iolani led 9-2 and had its student section at full volume.

They opened the lead to 14-5 after another block and kill by Calimpong-Burke, but Kamehameha chipped away. Ka‘awa (seven kills) had one of her team’s seven aces, and setter Lexis Akeo went to Pelaras for three kills during a 7-3 run.

Bailey Choy (29 assists) crafted a perfect dump shot to give ‘Iolani an 18-12 cushion, but the Warriors then went on a 9-1 blitz. Akeo fed Afoa, Ka‘awa and Robins, and with Leopoldino at serve, the Warriors tied the game at 19-all on a dump by Akeo. They took the lead on a kill by Robins, a 6-foot sophomore, and the Raiders never regained the lead.

A block by Ka‘awa and Robins, and an ace by Lauren Condon (three aces total) stifled ‘Iolani and gave the visitors a 23-20 lead. Akeo, a freshman, closed the match out with a left-handed dump shot.

Sierra Buscher added seven kills, an ace and a block for ‘Iolani. Calimpong-Burke finished with six kills in seven swings, plus two blocks.

For the Raiders, who have now been swept in consecutive matches, it is time to evolve or be denied an ILH title. Again.

“For our program, we just haven’t won the ILH in many years,” ‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey said. “It’s something the kids really want.”


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