Posted: September 25, 2012 - 11:30pm
Punahou outduels 'Iolani in three set thriller
Punahou's "Sweet Sixteen" showed poise and patience in a 25-21, 24-26, 25-19 victory over upset-minded 'Iolani to remain undefeated in Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I play.
"There's sixteen of us, so we kind of have the nickname of the 'Sweet Sixteen'" said middle blocker Clare Feely. "and with that we stick together no matter what and we always encourage each other."
As the lone team to take a set from the Buffanblu, 'Iolani has been anything but sweet to Punahou this season, and in front of a home crowd Tuesday, the Raiders were keen on spoiling the party once again, keeping up nearly point-for-point in a closely contested set one, getting as close as 22-21 late in the set following a Punahou net violation. But Buffanblu setter Tayler Higgins' dump shot hit the floor to push the lead back to 23-21, and back-to-back hitting errors would close out the set for Punahou, 25-21.
Iolani came out of the gate quickly in set number two, jumping out to an 8-3 lead powered by a trio of kills by Loxley Keala, prompting an early timeout by Punahou. The Raiders continued to hold the advantage for much of the set, but the Buffanblu continued to chip away at the margin, eventually tying the score up at 18-all on an ace by Julia Lau.
The lead exchanged hands five more times in the set, but Iolani would get to 25-24 on a Haley Robinson kill off the Punahou block, and setter Bailey Choy would find Keala with the set winner on the next serve to give Iolani the set, 26-24.
A turning point in the match seemed to come at the 15-13 mark of set three, where Punahou seized control with back-to-back-to-back kills, the first by Clare Feely and the following two off the arm of Remo Gaogao, punctuated by a big block by Feely and Gaogao to push the lead out to 19-13.
"We don't necessarily want to start with a deficit but the fact that we did really helps because it helps give you the motivation to push forward and show them that you can really push through." added Feely.
Coming out of an Iolani timeout, Feely and Taylor Dayton turned back another Raiders' kill attempt to extend the margin to 20-13, but Iolani rattled off three consecutive points to trim the margin to just four.
But the Raiders would not get any closer.
Feely and Dayton added yet another block, the sixth of the set for the Buffanblu, which was followed by a Gaogao kill and a Lau ace to extend the margin to 23-16. Carly Kan's spike pushed Punahou to match point at 24-17, and Gaogao's kill fell to the floor two points later to end it.
Higgins pointed to adjustments made between sets two and three as being key in the deciding third.
"We were getting caught drifting on the ball, not pressing over, netting, so we made it a point to fix that in the third game." said Higgins.
"We can dig the ball so we just got to be more disciplined and not go for the stuff just take away the good part of the court."
September 25, 2012
Taylor Dayton (10) and Clare Feely (6) put up a double block on an attempt by Iolani's Taimane Passi. Sylvia Lee | Special to SL