Despite a stacked field, the Ann Kang Volleyball Invitational championship goes through Punahou.
The Buffanblu are going for their third straight tournament title this year, trying to match Mira Costa in 2002-2004 as the only team to three-peat. Punahou has not lost a match in Iolani’s preseason tilt since the 2009 championship against Redondo Union, winning all eight of its matches the last two years and dropping only two sets.
This year’s field features five of the top 10 teams in the Star-Advertiser’s preseason poll, led by No. 2 Punahou and followed by No. 3 Moanalua, No. 4 ‘Iolani, No. 5 Kahuku and No. 9 Seabury Hall. Hawaii Baptist and Maryknoll also received votes in the poll and are in the field.
Mainland teams include 5-time Ann Kang champion Mira Costa, which went 8-8 in the tournament last year. California state finalist Los Alamitos is also in the field along with Kingwood (Texas), Santa Monica (Calif.), Lakewood, Memorial, Newport Harbor and Village Christian.
Punahou swept Mira Costa 25-20, 25-21 last year.
No. 1 Kamehameha, which won the tournament the last time it entered in 2007, is staying home but is getting much the same experience. The defending state champions spent Tuesday and Wednesday this week scrimmaging the mainland teams that are entered despite being in only their first week of practice due to last weekend’s storms.
Kamehameha is also scheduled to return to the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas Sept. 19-20. Mira Costa, Los Alamitos and Lakewood will all join the Warriors there.
Punahou plays ‘Iolani II in the first game at 8 a.m. Thursday in the lower gym while Los Alamitos and Kingwood go upstairs to the upper gym at the same time. The schedule for the first two days:
Punahou vs. ‘Iolani II, 8 a.m.
Santa Monica vs. Maryknoll, 9 a.m.
Punahou vs. Santa Monica, 10 a.m.
Mira Costa vs. Maryknoll, 11 a.m.
Mira Costa vs. Santa Monica, noon
Moanalua vs. Iolani II, 1 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Hawaii Baptist, 3 p.m.
Seabury Hall vs. Village Christian, 4 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Seabury Hall, 5 p.m.
Iolani vs. Village Christian, 6 p.m.
Iolani vs. Seabury Hall, 7 p.m.
Memorial vs. Hawaii Baptist, 8 p.m.
Los Alamitos vs. Kingwood, 8 a.m.
Mira Costa vs. Moanalua, 9 a.m.
Los Alamitos vs. Iolani II, 10 a.m.
Memorial vs. Newport Harbor, 11 a.m.
Lakewood vs. Kahuku, noon
Newport Harbor vs. Village Christian, 1 p.m.
Kahuku vs. Newport Harbor, 3 p.m.
Iolani vs. Memorial, 4 p.m.
Kahuku vs. Hawaii Baptist, 5 p.m.
Memorial vs. Newport Harbor, 6 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Kahuku, 7 p.m.
Newport Harbor vs. Village Christian, 8 p.m.
Mira Costa vs. Los Alamitos, 8 a.m.
Kingwood vs. Iolani II, 9 a.m.
Mira Costa vs. Maryknoll, 10 a.m.
Punahou vs. Kingwood, 11 a.m.
Santa Monica vs. Iolani II, noon
Mira Costa vs. Santa Monica, 1 p.m.
Iolani vs. Kahuku, 3 p.m.
Newport Harbor vs. Hawaii Baptist, 4 p.m.
Iolani vs. Hawaii Baptist, 5 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Newport Harbor, 6 p.m.
Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii Baptist, 7 p.m.
Iolani vs. Newport Harbor, 8 p.m.
Moanalua vs. Santa Monica, 8 a.m.
Punahou vs. Maryknoll, 9 a.m.
Los Alamitos vs. Santa Monnica, 10 a.m.
Moanalua vs. Maryknoll, 11 a.m.
Los Alamitos vs. Maryknoll, noon
Punahou vs. Moanalua, 1 p.m.
Memorial vs. Seabury Hall, 3 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Village Christian, 4 p.m.
Kahuku vs. Seabury Hall, 5 p.m.
Memorial vs. Village Christian, 6 p.m.
Kahuku vs. Village Christian, 7 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Memorial, 8 p.m.