The promise of a slugfest turned into a technical knockout, and it was Kamehameha that was left standing.
The Warriors absorbed every shot from a resilient ‘Iolani squad, then took command in the final two sets for a 25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 25-13 victory last night at Kekuhaupi’o Gym. Second-ranked Kamehameha (16-2) will meet regular-season champion Punahou tomorrow at Hemmeter Fieldhouse in the final of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu single-elimination girls volleyball tournament.
A win by Kamehameha would force a championship match on Tuesday against the Buffanblu.
Punahou won the regular-season matchup 25-22, 18-25, 25-21 on Oct. 1.
“As long as we communicate, we can definitely come back,” said Talia Jardin-Fermentez, who led Kamehameha with 15 kills (.467) last night.
For now, though, the Warriors can celebrate a hard-earned state-tournament berth after the win over ‘Iolani, which closed the year at 15-4. Setter Kelci Renshaw (42 assists) was the glue of a balanced Kamehameha attack, while Taylor Akana (17 digs) and sophomore Chelsey Keoho (13 digs) sealed an air-tight back row.
“Taylor and Chelsey did a good job,” coach Chris Blake said. “Chelsey especially with the serve reception and defense.”
Sophomores Amanda Wasko (11 kills) and Misty Ma’a (eight kills) were solid on both sides of the attack, and junior Nicole Sniffen (six kills, one ace) was versatile. Akana, a senior, added six kills and three of her team’s nine aces.
“We worked on the seams and cut down on our errors. That caused (‘Iolani) to play out of system,” Akana said.
Kamehameha had just five service errors.
Seniors Mahina Haina led fourth-ranked ‘Iolani with 19 kills and Alissa Youart added 15. The Raiders lacked Kamehameha’s depth and balance, though, and Haina and Youart seemed to tire late in the match, combining for six hitting errors in the fourth set. Kamehameha’s wicked serve had something to do with that.
“They’re serving aggressively and our passers weren’t getting the pass where we wanted,” Raiders coach Jenic Tumaneng said. “We tried changing our receiving patterns and personnel.”
Sophomore Kamea Chock added six kills and senior Mali’e Yoon tallied 34 assists. The Raiders finished with three aces and six service errors.
Jardin-Fermentez was largely unchallenged in the middle, pounding five kills as the Warriors won the opening set. She was neutralized in the second game (one kill) as the visiting Raiders endured five lead changes before taking a 20-19 lead on a kill by Haina en route to evening the match.
‘Iolani stayed close and trailed 15-14 after an ace by Yoon. Kamehameha responded with a 9-2 run, however, getting four kills and a roof by Jardin-Fermentez to seize control.
‘Iolani hung around for a short time in the fourth set, leading 4-3, before the Warriors exploded for a 13-1 blitz. Blocks by Wasko and Jardin-Fermentez helped Kamehameha take a 16-5 lead en route to victory.
It was a stunningly different finish from the regular season, when Kamehameha won 26-24, 25-27, 25-22.
Now, Punahou awaits the Warriors.
“We just want to prove we deserve to be in states,” Akana said.