Winning seven state titles in a row doesn’t happen often.
That’s why coach Rick Tune gleaned all he could from Punahou’s preseason matchups with a dangerous Kamehameha-Hawaii squad. The Buffanblu swept the third-seeded Warriors 25-6, 25-14, 25-19 on a sweltering night at Radford’s James Alegre Gymnasium, but they weren’t just dominant in a match that took just 70 minutes to complete. They were at a different level, using multiple-attack sets, particularly in the opening set.
“We played them twice in the Kamehameha tournament and split both times. They represented the Big Island well. We just played a good game tonight,” Tune said.
The Warriors were 14-1 in BIIF play, but didn’t match Punahou’s execution until the end of the second set. The Buffanblu were mindful of KS-Hawaii’s strongest weapon, junior outside hitter Kamau Kama‘ike.
“Thirty (Kama‘ike) is definitely their go-to guy, 13 (Chase Bridges-Hunter) gets a lot of balls. They’re really scrappy and they’ve always getting the ball back over the net since (Guy) Enriques,” Tune said, referring to the former Warriors coach.
Junior outside hitter Jack Deuchar (12 kills, ace) was formidable at times, but this may have been Punahou’s most balanced attack of the season.
“We knew we had to give them multiple looks and not be predictable. We’ve been working a lot on that kind of stuff. I’m particularly proud of the guys and the way they played in the first set. We’re doing stuff we couldn’t do two, three weeks ago,” Tune said.
Braxdon Simmons was especially efficient with seven kills, two blocks and two aces.
“He came in and did areal nice job. He’s a player who always goes hard. You love having a guy like that, a leader, a tough guy and a smart kid,” Tune said.
Simmons, a 6-1 middle, alternated with Robert Allen (five kills, three blocks) to give Punahou a big edge at the net.
“I’ve been patient, making sure I’m putting in the work so I’m ready when I get the opportunity. It all starts with the first pass and the passes were really good tonight,” Simmons said.
The Buffanblu will meet Moanalua in the semifinal round of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships on Friday night. The Buffanblu left after their win on Thursday rather than stick around to watch Moanalua and Mililani play in a quarterfinal.
“We’ll go back home and get a couple of guys in the training room. Take care of our bodies. We have tape on these teams,” Tune said. “We played them once. They were playing without DiAeris (McRaven) and we played without Kawai Hong. We’re different than we were when we played them. It’s going to be a battle tomorrow, especially on their home court.”
Punahou has embraced its role this season as the underdog, as the ILH runner-up, as an unseeded entry into the state tourney.
“It helps us to fight harder, and we use to build momentum for this week,” Simmons said. “I know the Moanalua players, we play club. We’re looking forward to playing them tomorrow.”
|1||April 29||Hilo vs. Leilehua||Hilo 25-17, 19-25, 25-22, 25-16||Hilo|
|2||April 29||Kalaheo vs. Farrington||Kalh 25-14, 25-18, 25-16||Kalaheo|
|3||April 29||Lahainaluna vs. Mililani||Mil 25-19, 25-23, 25-10||Lahainaluna|
|4||April 29||Punahou vs. Castle||Pun 25-9, 25-15, 25-19||Punahou|
|5||May 2||(3) KS-Hawaii vs. Punahou||Pun 25-6, 25-14, 25-19||Radford|
|6||May 2||(2) Moanalua vs. Mililani||Moan 25-17, 25-9, 22-25, 25-22||Radford|
|7||May 2||(4) KS-Maui vs. Kalaheo||Kalh 25-13, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20||Moanalua|
|8||May 2||(1) 'Iolani vs. Hilo||Iol 25-14, 25-15, 25-23||Moanalua|
|9*||May 3||KS-Maui vs. Hilo||Hilo, 2-1||Radford|
|10*||May 3||KS-Hawaii vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||Radford|
|11||May 3||Kalaheo vs. 'Iolani||Iol 25-19, 25-7, 25-18||Moanalua|
|12||May 3||Punahou vs. Moanalua||Pun 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 15-5||Moanalua|
|13*||May 4||Hilo vs. Mililani||Mil 18-25, 25-21, 16-14||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||May 4||Kalaheo vs. Moanalua||Kalh 25-14, 25-21||Blaisdell Arnea|
|15||May 4||'Iolani vs. Punahou||7 p.m.||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|