The only thing that really didn’t go right for longtime Kamehameha girls volleyball coach Chris Blake was his post-match dinner.
He showed up at Rainbow Drive In on Thursday night, in need of his favorite: chili plate. The bad news: sold out.
That’s one of the few things that haven’t gone well for the physics instructor on or off the court. His program is still elite, ranked No. 2 in the state, but with Punahou and top-ranked ‘Iolani right there in the mix, there is no single dominant program. No surprise. There’s just too much talent in the islands.
Question is, is Kamehameha still a dynasty?
The Kamehameha Warriors long reigned supreme in the world of Hawaii high school girls volleyball. ‘Iolani’s rise to the championship last year signaled a possible changing of the guard. Coached by Blake, Kamehameha dominated with six consecutive state crowns (2005-10), just one shy of the record set by University (’84-’90) under Raplee Fitzsimmons and current Kamehameha athletic director Glennie Adams.
Since Kamehameha’s streak ended, Punahou has won three titles, Kamehameha has two (’13, ’15) and ‘Iolani took their trophy under Kainoa Obrey last season. Eight championships in 12 years still looks and feels like a dynasty, though parity is real.
“There are four strong teams in the ILH,” Blake said after Kamehameha swept No. 3 Punahou at Hemmeter Fieldhouse 26-24, 25-21 on Thursday night.
The match took just 58 minutes. Punahou looked equally explosive at times, but committed a few more miscues than the Warriors as both teams worked out the kinks of early-season action. Kamehameha’s depth was another factor. Keonilei Akana (seven kills, one ace), Braelyn Akana (five kills, two blocks, one ace), Malie McClure (four kills), Kili Robins (three kills) and Lexis Akeo (23 assists, one block) played with precision and timing.
“We’re lucky. We’ve got a lot of great athletes in there. They do their work in the gym, in the weight room and the track. All those things come together. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s good first step for us against a good Punahou team. They put us in a lot of tough spots. I’m proud of their girls, they made a lot of adjustments,” Blake said. “Punahou has a lot of horses on their team, their setter (Teana Adams-Kaonohi) is awesome. They have a solid six. To come out with a sweep here is awesome for us.”
Kamehameha’s serve kept Punahou from gaining momentum, especially with a lethal hitter like Amalia Hilliard (eight kills). Blake’s staff handles much of the tactical brainwork.
“(Assistant coach) Bekah Torres is on that, keeping them off kilter,” he said.