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.
|1||Oct. 21||Moanalua vs. Waianae||Moan 25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 23-25, 15-13||Moanalua|
|2||Oct. 21||Punahou vs. Kahuku||Pun 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21||Punahou|
|3||Oct. 21||Waiakea vs. Kapolei||Kapo 25-15, 25-18, 25-13||Waiakea|
|4||Oct. 21||KS-Maui vs. Le Jardin||LJA 25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 25-14||KS-Maui|
|5||Oct. 24||(4) King Kekaulike vs. Moanalua||Moan 25-17, 25-17, 25-19||Moanalua|
|6||Oct. 24||(1) Kamehameha vs. Kapolei||KSK 25-20, 25-14, 25-20||Moanalua|
|7||Oct. 24||(3) KS-Hawaii vs. Punahou||Pun 25-12, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23||McKinley|
|8||Oct. 24||(2) Mililani vs. Le Jardin||Mil 22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20||McKinley|
|9*||Oct. 25||King Kekaulike vs. Kapolei||Kapo 25-23, 25-16||McKinley|
|10*||Oct. 25||KS-Hawaii vs. Le Jardin||KSH 25-20, 25-22||McKinley|
|11||Oct. 25||Moanalua vs. Kamehameha||KSK 25-22, 25-19, 25-18||Moanalua|
|12||Oct. 25||Punahou vs. Mililani||Pun 25-22, 25-12, 25-20||Moanalua|
|13*||Oct. 26||Kapolei vs. KS-Hawaii||Kapo 25-16, 24-26, 15-8||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||Oct. 26||Moanalua vs. Mililani||Moan 14-25, 28-26, 15-12||Blaisdell Arena|
|15||Oct. 26||Kamehameha vs. Punahou||KSK 21-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-21||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|