Buffanblu give Farmers much-needed competition

They were swept away by Punahou’s talent and depth, but the Molokai Farmers are relishing their trip to Oahu.

In need of competition, coach Matthew Helm sought out the best and got his dream matchups. Last night, No. 2 Punahou downed No. 3 Molokai in a four-set scrimmage 28-26, 25-19, 25-11, 15-13 in girls volleyball action.

It was the first match in two weeks for Molokai (4-0), which gets only Division II play in the Maui Interscholastic League. The Farmers schedule, heavily affected by budget cuts, hasn’t been busy since preseason tournaments in August.

“You’re playing Punahou, one of the best in the state. It’s good for us,” Helm said.

Molokai, one of the top contenders for this season’s Division II state title, will play No. 1 Kamehameha today in a 4 p.m. scrimmage.

The Buffanblu, who play No. 4 Mid-Pacific today, were clearly the more polished team, partly because of a much busier schedule.

“We want to be disciplined,” Punahou coach Peter Balding said. “These kids are 10th graders and ninth graders, so they’re going to have those spells.”

At one point in the opening set, the visitors led 16-10. The Farmers managed to put up a solid block in the opening set, even with the 6-foot-2 Adolpho — who has committed to play basketball for the UH Wahine — in the back row.

However, Punahou rallied and took a 24-23 lead on a spike by Remo Gaogao.
Molokai took a 25-24 lead on a block of Tai Manu-Olevao, but Brigette Russo and Gaogao gave Punahou the lead with back-to-back kills. The Buffanblu finally put it away on a kill by Taylor Cayton.

By the second set, Punahou’s subs took a toll on Molokai, and the Farmers’ block was far less effective when Adolpho rotated back. Gaogao and Cayton got plenty of swings.

“It’s great competition,” Helm said. “Communication. Intensity. During play, it’s not anything technical, it’s more mental. We should be getting better.”

The Farmers regrouped after a lopsided third set, moments after Helm had some words of inspiration for the team.

“It’s just being intense and having that fire and desire,” Helm added.

They took a 6-2 lead before the Buffanblu stormed back with a 10-2 run, powered by middle Brittney Markwith and Manu-Olevao.

The connection between the programs stems from Punahou assistant coach Lehua Kadooka. Helm and Kadooka played club volleyball under Pat Gomes-Woolsey.

“Kaneohe, that’s my second family away from home,” Helm said.


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