In the big picture, the Goliath that is Kamehameha’s girls volleyball program has felt the sting of defeat only rarely.
And often enough, the Warriors responded with a renewed energy, the kind that they witnessed from ‘Iolani on Tuesday night. Unbeaten, top-ranked Kamehameha seemingly had another ILH championship wrapped up after two sets, and then the visiting, No. 2-ranked Raiders played lights-out for a stunning 23-25, 14-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-11 win at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium.
Elena Oglivie was spectacular from every location on the court and finished with whopping totals of 31 kills in 72 swings with only two hitting errors.
“Yes, I feel very tired,” Oglivie said after the match.
It was the kind of effort that was reminiscent of Sarah Palmer, the Hawaii Baptist outside hitter who once had 95 swings (and 34 kills) in a five-set, HHSAA Division II final as a junior back in 2008.
Could Oglivie have taken 23 more swings — 95 total?
“If I need to, of course,” she said.
‘Iolani won for the first time in five tries against the Warriors despite being ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today. Kamehameha is No. 6.
When Coach Kainoa Obrey saw his team fritter away a 21-18 lead in the opening set to fall behind, 1-0, he didn’t hesitate to insert reserves for the second set. Whatever the strategy was, it turned out to be genius, even though the Raiders lost the game and fell behind 2-0.
“I think that just gave us a break,” said Oglivie, the 2016 Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year as a freshman. “It was more, I think, maybe to show us that our bench could also be engaged and ready to play at all times. It got us mentally refreshed.”
From there, the offense was in a groove. The passing, the setting by Kristen McDaniel (41 assists) and the execution were at a peak.
“Definitely. I love those games like that where everything you hit feels like a kill,” Oglivie said. “High sets and good, effective swings.”
It wasn’t just Oglivie, of course. Middle Sasha Petticord was instrumental with five of her six blocks in the fifth set, along with five kills. The Raiders finished with an 11-9 edge in blocks.
Freshman Mokihana Tufono had six kills, and also played setter in the second set. The Warriors had dropped only two sets to ‘Iolani in their previous three matches combined.
But this time, the Raiders managed to be effective against Kamehameha’s stellar serve game. And the emergence of ‘Iolani sophomore outside hitter Becca Sakoda might have been just enough of an edge to keep the Warriors off balance. Just when they seemed ready to put a wall around Oglivie, Sakoda had a key kill in the final set. McDaniel, who hadn’t tried for a kill since the first set, ended the match with a perfectly placed dump shot in the middle of the Kamehameha defense.
Now the Raiders are in position to win the second-round, double-elimination tournament on Thursday in their gym. Win that match, and they can play first-round winner Kamehameha once more on Friday for the ILH championship.
Defending state champion Kamehameha, which has won nine titles under Chris Blake, is looking forward to getting back in the gym. The Warriors hit .218, including a combined 12 hitting errors in the final three sets. ‘Iolani had just four hitting errors over the same span. The Warriors also had seven aces and five service errors; ‘Iolani tallied four aces and seven service errors.
‘Iolani hit .196 in the first two sets, then .340 in the last three games.
“We’ll get back to work,” Blake said. “Hat’s off to ‘Iolani. This is a great opportunity for us to grow.”
As for Oglivie and a right shoulder that just had 72 swings, she expects to be fully fueled for Thursday.
“It’ll be challenging. We’re always going to be prepared to compete and play our best,” she said. “Whoever plays the best that night will win.”