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Prep Football Preview Special
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveOctober 28, 2022, 12:46am
Thu, Oct 27, 2022 @ Moanalua [ 5:00 pm ]
SALT LAKE — Kamehameha-Hawaii will look to make history Friday night.
Maela Honma put down 17 kills, Taina Kaauwai 13 and Sarah Schubert 11 to lift the seventh-ranked Warriors to a five-set win over No. 4 Kahuku in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division I State Championships Thursday night.
The set scores were 24-26, 14-25, 25-23, 25-5 and 15-11.
Kamehameha-Hawaii, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will try to become just the third different team from a neighbor island to claim a top-tier state championship. The only other times a non-Oahu school won the state title was Hilo in both 1972 and 1974.
"It would mean everything in the world for us," said Honma, a junior outside hitter.
"We want to make history with this team. I feel that we're very special and that we can do it. We just gotta believe in ourselves and ultimately, for our fans, our supporters and our families, we want to make them proud," she added.
The Warriors improved to 18-0 and will face top-seeded Iolani in the title match at the Stan Sheriff Center Friday night. It will be their first appearance in a state final.
"Well, we're at that point where it doesn't matter anymore, right?," Kamehameha-Hawaii coach Guy Enriques said. "I mean, you just go balls out and the outcome is — what we've been trying to get to these girls is ‘don't worry about the outcome, it's gonna be whatever it is' and whatever foundation we've built on us, whether we're gonna be resilient or we're gonna fall, we have a foundation and that's what we gotta rely on."
Kamehameha-Hawaii, the BIIF champion, was coming off of a program-defining win over ILH runner-up and second-ranked Punahou in Wednesday's quarterfinal round. While it sprinted to a sweep of the Buffanblu, Thursday's match proved to be more of a marathon affair.
"We had a good talk today about not taking things for granted. We were good the other night so it would have been real easy to sit back and say, ‘oh, we're good,' but we had to prove it tonight; we had to prove it," Enriques said. "We hadn't been in that situation at all the entire season, so it was a good test. You know, adversity is a welcomed opportunity to show some resilience and I'm so glad we did."
Kahuku closed out the first set with a 7-2 run to win it 26-24. It separated early in set 2 to pull away, 25-14, and held a 14-10 lead midway through set 3. Later in the set, Mao Lauhingoa's kill out of the middle gave the Red Raiders a 22-19 advantage. However, a kill by Honma from the left side ignited a 5-0 run for the Warriors to pull ahead, 24-22. After a service error to cut it to a 24-23, Kilinoelehua Helm put away the final point for KS-Hawaii.
The Warriors rode that momentum into game 4, when they scored the first seven points and the final 11 points of the set en route to a 25-5 thrashing.
"It was a relief," Honma said of the one-sided fourth set. "I mean, we worked so hard to get here and to have that set wasn't easy — we definitely worked for it — but it almost felt reassuring that we would get to the next set and get to a fifth game."
Set 5 was a back-and-forth affair, to be sure, as there were six ties and four lead changes.
Kahuku held a 9-8 lead after a Sidney Keni kill. However, the Warriors answered with four straight points, bookended by kills by Kaauwai, to surge ahead, 12-9. Keni had another kill to cut it to 12-10, but Kaauwai put down back-to-back kills in the middle off of assists by Tacoma Kelson, to get to match point. After Mele Taumoepeau's tip kill to get the Red Raiders to within 14-11, Honma finished off the match by going off the double-block and out for her 17th kill of the night.
"We dug deep, for sure. I mean, we had a reality check," said Honma, who took 51 swings and had 21 kills against the Buffanblu the night prior.
"We were sitting back on our win yesterday and you know what, it doesn't matter what happened yesterday, it's what's in the now right now that matters and we just fought back," she added.
Kaauwai, one of seven seniors for KS-Hawaii, agreed with Honma that it took some extra fortitude to pull out the reverse sweep.
"I think we started settling in on how serious this really is. Our team is majority seniors, so we definitely pushed through for ourselves — we've been playing since we were young — not only for ourselves, but we thought about our supporters at home, here, the future generation of our program and it just clicked in us and we just fought back," said Kaauwai, who had five kills in the fifth set.
The Warriors registered a hitting percentage of .087 through the first three sets, but hit .375 in the final two sets.
"Well, when they're on their game, they're tough," Enriques said of the Red Raiders.
"They're tough, but I think under pressure, I think we're a little bit stronger under pressure and I think that helped us at the end. … We had to get back into that one set we won before we could find our footing and we had just a smidgen of light that opened up for us — it was crazy," he said. "I mean, we got lucky. We got lucky."
Honma came up with a team-high 19 digs and Schubert also registered a double-double with 14 digs. Libero Leisey Kelii had 18 digs and Kaauwai was in on five blocks, including four solo stuffs. Kelson had 22 assists, eight digs and five aces and Savanna Collido tallied 21 assists and nine digs in the win.
Kamehameha-Hawaii hit .155 for the match to Kahuku's .151.
Cha'lei Reid led the Red Raiders with 13 kills, seven digs, five aces and three blocks. Taumoepeau and Sidney Keni had 11 kills apiece and Lauhingoa chipped in with eight kills.
Enriques and the Warriors tipped their cap to Kahuku libero Hehea Pulotu, who racked up a match-high 28 digs — many of them in rather spectacular fashion.
"The libero was all-world. I mean, she was doing some magnificent things," Enriques said. "We were hitting great middle shots, we were hitting outside and that freakin' girl was all over the place. I mean, she literally kept them in the game."
Dakota Keni had 18 assists and eight digs and Madison Mamizuka added 13 assists and three digs in the loss.
The Red Raiders, the tournament No. 2 seed, fell to 14-1 and will play Mililani for third place at 2 p.m. Friday.
Kamehameha-Hawaii had dropped only two sets all season prior to losing the first two sets to Kahuku Thursday.
"Iolani's a good team, so we're looking forward to that big challenge," Enriques said.
First serve between the Warriors and Raiders is scheduled for about 7 p.m. It will follow the Division II state final between No. 5 Le Jardin and Hawaii Baptist at 5 p.m.
Top-seeded Raiders cruise past Trojans, into state title match
> Box score
Senna Roberts-Navarro recorded 21 kills and Tessa Onaga scooped up 16 digs to lead No. 1 Iolani to a 25-14, 25-9, 25-15 win over OIA runner-up Mililani in the late semifinal at Moanalua Thursday night.
The top-seeded Raiders (13-1) notched their 13th consecutive victory, while the sixth-ranked Trojans (13-3) were swept for the first time this season.
Roberts-Navarro, a 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter/opposite, committed only one error in her 33 swings and hit .606. Fellow senior pin hitter Brooke Naniseni (13 kills, two errors, 24 swings) hit .458, while sophomore middle Callie Pieper (7 kills, no errors, 10 swings) hit .700.
"I think what helps is definitely the passing," said Roberts-Navarro, who is verbally committed to play collegiately at Seton Hall next year. "Having Tessa in the back row, she's amazing and that helps Maya give out really nice sets and us hitters are able to score at a high percentage."
Roberts-Navarro was a perfect 12 for 12 on serve-receive, while Onaga, a senior libero and Northeastern University-commit, was 10 for 10. Iolani was 35 of 36 in service-reception as a team.
Imoto-Eakin, a University of Illinois-commit, posted 40 assists and six digs and Erin Hiraki contributed 10 digs. Naniseni was in on five blocks, while the Raiders totaled nine team blocks to four for Mililani.
Iolani registered a torrid .444 hitting percentage for the match and held Mililani to a minus-.011 clip.
Alexis Rodriguez led the Trojans with 10 kills and eight digs. Anae Asuncion dished out 17 assists in the loss.
Mililani will meet Kahuku in a rematch of last week's OIA championship for third place Friday.
Iolani is seeking its fourth state title and first since 2018, the last time it qualified for states.
"It's so surreal. Even though we haven't been, it feels like we have been in this situation before and I think we're all super composed, which is really great," Roberts-Navarro said.
It will be the first time since in 20 years that the state final does not feature two teams from the ILH.
The last non-ILH school to win the top-tier state championship was Kahuku in 2002.
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