Punahou turns up heat to sweep ‘Iolani

Punahou’s Ryan Wilcox battles Iolani’s Shane Harimoto in the second set. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

On paper, maybe Jordan Inafuku has one advantage.

The ‘Iolani boys volleyball coach knows many of Punahou’s standout players quite well. At least the ones who play for Spike N’ Serve Volleyball Club, which Inafuku coaches.

The reality, though, is that when Punahou plays any team, even a powerhouse like ‘Iolani, they are a big blue machine. Ryan Wilcox didn’t get a surplus of opportunities, yet had eight kills. Wilcox’s presence opened up the other side for Kana‘i Akana, who finished with 11 kills. Three of those spikes came during Punahou’s 9-2 run to close out what had been a very close first set.

Punahou went on to sweep ‘Iolani 25-18, 25-17 on Tuesday night in a key ILH matchup. The Buffanblu improved to 3-0 and ‘Iolani is now 3-1.

“Nothing about them surprised me,” Inafuku said. “In matches like this, we learn the most. It gives us a good list to work on and good motivation. For these guys, practice has been sharp every day.”

Akana wasn’t surprised by his club coach, either.

“It’s probably a disadvantage for us. You can see (Inafuku) making blocking adjustments,” Akana said. “Our whole team, every guy can step up. That makes us hard to defend.”

Jameson McKibbin was virtually flawless with distribution to his vast arsenal of offensive weapons. He had two blocks to go with 26 assists, three kills and one ace. That precision and execution by Punahou’s attack was crucial on a night when the Raiders permitted just three aces at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

“We handled their serve, so that gives us confidence going forward,” Inafuku added.

For Punahou, the legacy carries a certain weight. Coach Rick Tune saw that and asked his team to let go a bit, especially this early in the regular season.

“It’s match three. We are working out some kinks, trying to throw a lot of of stuff at our team,” said Tune, who has been head coach for eight state crowns at Punahou. “I told them in a timeout, we need to stop playing like we’re supposed to win by 20 points. Just play volleyball.”

McKibbin is the prototype Punahou setter, skilled enough to play any position.

“Jameson’s running a pretty advaned offense with Bs and Cs and Bics,” Tune said.

While Punahou hit .458 (three hitting errors), ‘Iolani hit .226 (five hitting errors). Each team had three aces with six service errors. Punahou had a slight edge with five blocks to ‘Iolani’s four.


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