The Punahou boys volleyball team received a “wake-up call” the last time it played Kamehameha.
This time around, the Buffanblu answered the call.
Jack Duechar had 14 kills and Kawai Hong added 13 as Punahou defeated host Kamehameha 25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 25-17 in a playoff for the ILH regular-season championship Saturday.
The Buffanblu (10-1) clinched a berth in the HHSAA Division I State Championships, which starts April 29. Punahou has won the last seven state titles.
“Huge. I cannot tell you how ginormous that is,” Punahou coach Rick Tune said. “We have three really good teams in our league. Maybe more.”
Next up for the Buffanblu and Warriors is the ILH tournament, which started Saturday. The event will help determine the league’s other state tournament team. Both teams will open play Monday.
On Wednesday, Kamehameha beat host Punahou in four sets to snap the Buffanblu’s 34-match regular-season winning streak and force the playoff.
“It feels really great after Kamehameha played a really great match Wednesday,” said Hong, a junior. “It was kind of a wake-up call because we had a streak in the past and it felt really good to win and kind of start our own streak.”
In Saturday’s match, Robbie Allen added 11 kills for Punahou, while Connor McInerny had 25 assists and Keegan Au Yuen had 21.
“It’s best for the team,” said McInerny, a senior, on the Buffanblu’s two-setter system. “I just try to encourage my partner Keegan all the time and we’re finding a rhythm. He’s the real deal and the future of this program.”
Both teams were playing their fourth match in four days.
After meeting Wednesday on the final day of the ILH regular season, Punahou and Kamehameha played nationally ranked California teams in the Clash of the Titans on Thursday and Friday.
The Buffanblu swept Corona Del Mar, which is ranked No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps, on Friday after a heartfelt team meeting.
“We just had a big boost from last night when we played Corona Del Mar,” McInerny said. “The leadership between all the players, all the seniors, was out there today.”