VB: Red scare

Moanalua's Gabriela Matautia slipped a kill past Kahuku's Natallia Cravens and Teuila Nautu on Thursday night but couldn't prevent the Red Raiders from winning the OIA champinship. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.
Moanalua's Gabriela Matautia slipped a kill past Kahuku's Natallia Cravens and Teuila Nautu on Thursday night but couldn't prevent the Red Raiders from winning the OIA champinship. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.
This wasn’t the first time a Kahuku volleyball team started slowly.
It was certainly the first time in recent memory, however, a team made such a big comeback in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs. The Red Raiders rallied from a 24-18 deficit to stun Moanalua, and went on to a 27-25, 25-20, 26-28, 25-18 win on Thursday to win their second league title in a row.
“Moanalua is a tough team, but we had to play our game. The girls are coming together and peaking at the right time,” Kahuku coach Uila Fotu Vendiola said. “It should carry over to states.”
The New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships begin on Wednesday. Kahuku (15-1) will have a first-round bye. Moanalua (15-3) has already sealed a state berth.
Down 24-18 in the first set, Kahuku got a superlative effort from Maria Tonga, who had three kills and a block down the stretch. Her block of Carsen Mata tied it at 24-all, and she ended the set with her only ace of the match.
From there, the Red Raiders were hot. They jumped to a 13-3 lead in the second game en route to a 2-0 lead in the match, committing no hitting errors. Tonga pounded seven of her team-high 19 kills in the second.
Moanalua avoided a sweep by taking game 3, getting three blocks from freshman Analise Austin. Her block on Amanda Tonga (10 kills) tied it at 23-all, and Erin Perez closed out the set with four kills to keep Moanalua’s hopes alive.
Playing their third match in as many nights, fatigue may have caught up with Na Menehune a bit at that point. Austin had back-to-back blocks on cousins Maria and Amanda Tonga to tie it at 13-all, but Kahuku went on a 7-1 run to take command. Moanalua got no closer than four points the rest of the way.
Now Kahuku can rest and prepare for the state tourney after an unbeaten run (4-0) through the OIA tourney. No more long bus rides from the North Shore to town.
“When you look at it, it’s the mental part. Our players have great skills and they’re great athletes, but this was a great display of mental toughness,” Fotu Vendiola said. “To come back and win, more than anything, I think they’ve grown mentally. I’m just very proud of them.”
Kahuku hit .375 with just 11 hitting errors. Moanalua hit .250 with 15 hitting errors.
The league crown is Kahuku’s eighth, all since 1992. The first two, in ’92 and ’93, were under Masa Fonoimoana. Kahuku won four titles under Mona Ah-Hoy in ’01, ’02, ’04 and ’05. The Red Raiders now have two OIA titles under Fotu Vendiola.
Statistic leaders
Kahuku: Maria Tonga 19 kills; Elizabeth Blake 11 kills, 17 assists; Teuila Nautu 33 assists, four kills; Natallia Cravens 8 kills, 2.5 blocks; Ho‘onani Apo 9 kills, ace; Amanda Tonga 10 kills, four blocks, one ace.
Moanalua: Carsen Mata 12 kills, 28 assists; Tasha Meyer 6 kills; Courtney Uyeda 20 assists; Erin Perez 15 kills; Gabby Matautia 21 kills, two blocks; Analise Austin 5 blocks.
Kahuku: 4 aces, 6 service errors, 8 blocks.
Moanalua: five aces, six service errors, 10 blocks.
Sarah Epstein of Kaiser split Castle's Maile Garcia and Joshell Lilio of Castle for a kill on Thursday night. The Cougars won the OIA White title. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.
Sarah Epstein of Kaiser split Castle's Maile Garcia and Joshell Lilio of Castle for a kill on Thursday night. The Cougars won the OIA White title. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.
Madison Pedone and Nikki Taylor combined for 37 kills as Kaiser outlasted Castle 25-12, 25-17, 23-25, 19-25, 15-12 to capture the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference title Thursday night at McKinley Student Council Gym.
Kaiser (13-3) finished third in the White East during the regular season, but continued to improve and went through the postseason tourney unbeaten.
Castle (12-5) swept both regular-season meetings with Kaiser, but the Cougars won a tourney game on Tuesday in five sets.
Castle, the White East second-place team, would have forced a winner-take-all match tomorrow with a win yesterday. The Knights almost did it with a hearty rally, but tired in the fifth set.
“They played a tough match last night,” Kaiser coach Ernest Noborikawa said. The Knights beat Kailua on Wednesday to advance to last night’s championship.
Pedone, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, led the Cougars with 19 kills and added two aces. Taylor, a 6-2 freshman, had 18 kills, including four in the final set.
“We pulled together even though everybody got tired,” Taylor said

COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiprepworld@staradvertiser.com.

*