Staying in Tune: Punahou hosts Kamehameha for ILH boys title

At the 2019 state tournament, Punahou coach Rick Tune coached up middle Braxton Simmons (15) during the second set of the Buffanblu's sweep of Kamehameha-Hawaii. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

In the blink of an eye, the ILH boys volleyball season is nearly done.

Maybe the shrunken season and shorter matches – best-of-three rather than best-of-five — give No. 2 seed Kamehameha the window they need. Punahou (11-0), winner of the last eight state championships (and 10 of the last 11) swept Kamehameha (6-3) during the regular season.

Tonight’s title match begins at 5 p.m. in Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

Punahou’s junior-heavy squad ousted Hawaii Baptist in the semifinal round 25-14, 25-18. Aidan Tune led the Buffanblu with 12 kills (.733), adding four digs. Keau Thompson and Riley Haine tallied seven kills each. Haine also had six digs and Thompson chipped in four. Nate Loose had three kills, two aces and two digs. Keegan Au Yuen finished with 22 assists and four digs.

The win over HBA was more convincing on paper than it was face to face.

Teoni (Obrey) always has his team ready with great energy,” Buffanblu coach Rick Tune said of his counterpart.

Punahou has been dominant through the regular season and swept Kamehameha twice. With a shortened season, the winner-take-all format means there is not much margin for error on Tuesday.

“Kamehameha is a good team with lots of nice pieces. We have to take care of us, play our ball,” Tune said. “If Kamehameha plays well, they play well. We’ll take care of what we do.”

Kamehameha outlasted ‘Iolani in two sets 25-18, 25-23.

“Our players stuck to the game plan and executed it to the ’T’,” Warriors coach Randy Nako said. “They are finally learning to play and follow the game plan. They are trusting each other on the court. They are playing with a lot of confidence, and all business. The guys are playing well now.”

The shortened season, with no preseason tournaments, has also limited the opportunities for lab work, so to speak.

“We finally found the right lineup, which has helped with the execution level. We need to play with confidence and execute at a high level to be competitive in this match,” Nako added.

Nako guided the Punahou girls volleyball team to the state title in 2004.

There are no state championships in Hawaii this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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