Kamehameha’s ‘tribe’ has their Yoda happy

Kamehameha 's Reyn "Tita" Akiu, center, celebrated with her teammates after scoring a point against Waiakea. Krystle Marcellus / Star-Advertiser
Kamehameha ‘s Reyn “Tita” Akiu, center, celebrated with her teammates after scoring a point against Waiakea. Krystle Marcellus / Star-Advertiser

It is Thursday already, which means the Kamehameha Warriors are 48 (or so) hours away from capturing another girls volleyball state championship.

Or you could say we’re 48 hours from another Kamehameha-Punahou state final. Maybe it’s 48 hours from a Punahou state title, knocking off the regular-season ILH champs (Kamehameha).

Wait. Maybe Punahou (14-3) doesn’t even make the final. The Buffanblu are outstanding, killer, dominant outside the ILH, right? They’ve got to deal with a powerful Moanalua (15-0) squad that features two heavy hitters in Jojo Kruize and Lia Gaogao (younger sister of former Punahou standout Remo Gaogao).

Or maybe this is all wrong. Maybe it’s Kamehameha that needs to worry about Kapolei (13-3) on Friday night. The Hurricanes have balance, scrappy defense and enough offensive firepower to challenge anybody. And… they’re on a roll.

It’s very hard, though, to imagine a scenario that doesn’t have Kamehameha winning its second title in a row and eighth in 10 years. Chris Blake has turned into Yoda — while still teaching physics classes — and leading the mantras of growth, development and teamwork. He knows it. His players know it. I’m sure assistant coach (and former All-State middle) Bekah Torres knows the mantras by heart, too.

Some of Coach Blake’s observations and philosophy.
>> “We have a good mix. We call ’em a tribe. There’s lots of senior leadership. They relish it. Our seniors are doing a great job of bringing everybody along and showing them how it’s done.”

>> “We’re constantly pushing each other hard in the gym. We have a great gym culture. The girls in the tribe do great things for each other. Because of our senior leaders, it’s made things easier for our staff to help us improve.”

The one quote that I haven’t heard in awhile is another truth: Kamehameha always gets an opponent’s best effort. It’ll probably happen this weekend, but it might not be enough. The Warriors are deep, talented, driven and hungry. Even with their starting setter out (injury), they haven’t missed a beat. They’ve got killer instinct and Tiyana Hallums’ fury and ferocity.

Enjoy these last two rounds of the state tourney, folks. Every team should be beatable. It just doesn’t look like Kamehameha is, though.


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