Silence is not an option for the Kamehameha Warriors.
Beyond the elite-level focus, skills and coaching, the Warriors dug deep and found something else on Tuesday night: resilience through communication. Kamehameha rallied for a stunning 12-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-16 win over No. 1 ‘Iolani at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium.
The visiting Raiders charged to an 8-0 lead at the onset and seemed beyond approach as they routed the Warriors in game one. Coach Chris Blake and his staff had already done the prep work. So, as he does from time to time, the 10-time state championship coach stepped back.
“Pretty much, they took it to us hard, but what was great was listening to what happening in between sets one and two. It wasn’t too much of the coaches. It was a lot of our players, the captains, were able to settle them down,” Blake said.
“We talked about just flushing the first set. We knew that wasn’t us, that wasn’t our game. We knew we have the ability to come back,” said Maui Robins, the returning Gatorade player of the year.
The senior finished with a match-high 19 kills and 25 digs. Senior libero Payton Oliveira was relentless with 17 digs.
“We reminded the team to stay connected because that’s the most important thing. One play, flush, and not to blame one another,” Oliveira said.
A week earlier, the Warriors were swept at Punahou. The evolution of the team, the improved chemistry, the win over an ‘Iolani team that had swept Punahou — all markers of a slightly different DNA.
“We’re a different team than we were yesterday. This game brought us a lot of confidence, but humbled us as well. We know that we need to stay calm and believe in ourselves and our abilities,” Robins said.
“It was mostly perseverance from everyone, even on the bench there’s a lot of energy that was coming onto the court. It helped that everyone stayed connected to persevering together,” Oliveira added.
The Warriors are still a relatively young team, but the new blue wave is growing. Junior Marley Roe’s versatility was key. She finished with five kills and 25 assists. Sophomore Adrianna Arquette had nine kills and junior Moana Peaua tallied six kills. Seniors Nadia Koanui (12 kills) and Sierra Scanlan (33 assists) rounded out a solid team victory.
The co-captains, Robins and Oliveira, were in tune with the team’s level of adrenaline.
“I think we had a little nerves coming in,” Robins said.
“Every game is like that,” Oliveira added. “But after awhile, we calm down, we settle and we play our game.”
How do the Warriors calm down?
“Breathing. Depending on your teammates. We’re really lucky to have such a great team that is mentally mature and knows how to bring one another up,” Robins said.
‘Iolani had three aces in the first set, but just one for the rest of the match.
“It came down to our first touch,” Blake said. “Both our serving and our passing. Both Payton, our libero, and Nadia, (‘Iolani) was coming after them pretty hard. They didn’t necessarily pass as well in the first set, but things began to settle down and they began to communicate. Once they’re connected we’re able to do a lot of great things offensively for the course of the last three sets.”
Kamehameha will host Punahou on Friday night.
“Hat’s off to ‘Iolani. They’re playing like champions and they put us into bad spots. We were stuck on 24 and we couldn’t get over the hump,” Blake said.
In sets two and three, Kamehameha was up 24-17 when ‘Iolani rallied with five points in a row before the Warriors prevailed.
“It was nothing to do with us. It had a lot to do with them. They’re fighting. Moki (Tufono) and their team over there’s got a lot of great players. Coach Kainoa (Obrey) and their squad, I’m sure they’ll be able to bring something better next time they step on the court,” Blake said.
US national team member Devin Kahahawai, Kamehameha’s 6-foot-2 outside hitter, is expected to return within the next week.