New look at setter gives Punahou a burst into final

Punahou's Jaclyn Matias puts up a set in the second set of a win over Mililani. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

If Punahou becomes a champion for the first time since 2014, you’re likely to see production from the Buffanblu’s middles tonight at Blaisdell Arena against arch-rival Kamehameha.

The Division I final of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships promises to be a close-to-the-vest affair. These two teams have been going at it all season, with the Warriors taking a 2-1 edge in victories so far.

But there is one more to go. Punahou (13-2) is riding on the breeze of newly installed setter Jaclyn Matias. Up through a first-round win over Kahuku, Chloe Kahanui was the starter at that position. But coach Tanya Fuamatu-Anderson was looking for a different tempo lately and put Matias in for the last two victories, Thursday over Kamehameha-Hawaii and Friday in a 25-22, 25-12, 25-20 semifinal sweep of OIA champion Mililani.

“Jackie has a different feel for running the offense,” Fuamatu-Anderson said. “It’s kind of nice that this is happening now. She’s cool, calm and collected and she’s a (youth) beach champion.”

Fuamatu-Anderson made sure to mention the huge contribution Kahanui has made throughout the season.

“Chloe is really pushing Jackie and there’s a lot of team chemistry,” the coach said. “Who cares who gets the glory? We just want that big title.”

That they do. Punahou has nine state championships since the tournament began in 1969. Kamehameha (14-2), however, has 21.

Earlier this year, the two teams met three times, twice in the regular season and once in the ILH tournament with the following results:

>> Sept. 7: Punahou def. Kamehameha 25-18, 25-17
>> Sept. 24: Kamehameha def. Punahou 22-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20, 15-12
>> Oct. 11: Kamehameha def. Punahou 25-15, 25-17, 25-16

“It’s all a mental game when we play them,” Buffanblu middle Isabelle Iosua said. “We beat them the first time we played them and we were all together. The second and third time (losses), we were mentally down. We’re ready to take them on. It’s about being confident in yourself and your team and knowing you can do it. It’s important to stay in the zone.”

Iosua had five kills and four blocks and her counterpart in the middle, Grace Fiaseu, had 10 kills and four blocks. Outside hitter Kaia Dunford had 12 kills and was only upstaged by one player in the match, Mililani’s Falanika Danielson, who had 18 kills.

Val Crabbe, the coach of Mililani (15-1) who watched her team lose for the first time this season, doesn’t see much difference in the talent level between tonight’s combatants for the championship at the Blaisdell Arena.

“It’s the playoffs,” she said. “Everybody’s gotta show up. It’s whoever shows up, You’re gonna see some great volleyball. Whatever cylinders you’ve got, they gotta all be clicking.”

For Punahou to win the title, it will have to find an answer for potent Kamehameha attackers Devin Kahahawai (13 kills in Friday’s first semifinal, a 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 win over OIA runner-up Moanalua) and Keoniei Akana (12 kills, 14 digs) and somehow disrupt the smooth offense that Bryanne Soares (36 assists) runs.

“(To win), we’ve got to really be executing the basic fundamentals better,” Fuamatu-Anderon said. “And continue to do what we did here (against Mililani). Kamehameha is going to be tougher with more firepower. They’re relentless on defense, so we’ll have to stay in it and not get frazzled. When they push back, we’re going to have to keep playing steady volleyball.”

Chris Blake, the Warriors’ coach, chimed in about the finale.

“We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did (against Moanalua, which finished 15-2),” he said. “We’re in the state final and we’re blessed to be in this position. We know that we have to play our best in the last match. We’re going to have to pass better, serve tougher and play a lot better in order to be successful.”

Kamehameha’s 21 D-I state titles are from 1969, 1970, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Punahou’s nine D-I state championships were won in 1973, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

The two semifinal losers, Mililani and Moanalua, keep on pushing but have not been able to break through for a state banner. Neither team has made it to the state championship match, which has been an all-ILH affair every year since 2002.

Since 2011, Na Menehune have been to the state D-I semifinals four times and the quarterfinals four times.

In that same span, the Trojans have been to the quarterfinals twice and the semifinals five times.


Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Oct. 21Moanalua vs. WaianaeMoan 25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 23-25, 15-13Moanalua
2Oct. 21Punahou vs. KahukuPun 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21Punahou
3Oct. 21Waiakea vs. KapoleiKapo 25-15, 25-18, 25-13Waiakea
4Oct. 21KS-Maui vs. Le JardinLJA 25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 25-14KS-Maui
5Oct. 24(4) King Kekaulike vs. MoanaluaMoan 25-17, 25-17, 25-19Moanalua
6Oct. 24(1) Kamehameha vs. KapoleiKSK 25-20, 25-14, 25-20Moanalua
7Oct. 24(3) KS-Hawaii vs. PunahouPun 25-12, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23McKinley
8Oct. 24(2) Mililani vs. Le JardinMil 22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20McKinley
9*Oct. 25King Kekaulike vs. KapoleiKapo 25-23, 25-16McKinley
10*Oct. 25KS-Hawaii vs. Le JardinKSH 25-20, 25-22McKinley
11Oct. 25Moanalua vs. KamehamehaKSK 25-22, 25-19, 25-18Moanalua
12Oct. 25Punahou vs. MililaniPun 25-22, 25-12, 25-20Moanalua
13*Oct. 26Kapolei vs. KS-HawaiiKapo 25-16, 24-26, 15-8Blaisdell Arena
14*Oct. 26Moanalua vs. MililaniMoan 14-25, 28-26, 15-12Blaisdell Arena
15Oct. 26Kamehameha vs. PunahouKSK 21-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-21Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


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