ILH Boys Volleyball
Punahou rallies from 0-2 deficit to hand Kamehameha first loss


Fri, Mar 17, 2023 @ Kamehameha [ 6:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
PUN (14-5) 23 24 25 25 15 3
KSK (12-4) 25 26 23 21 5 2
Kill: K. Wade (KSK) 25 kills
Blk: P. Awai (KSK) 6 blk

Welcome back Kahale.

Just one week removed a training stint with United States boys U19 national team, Kahale Clini returned in a big way for Punahou, putting down a team-high 18 kills to go along with an eye-popping 10 services aces, in a win via reverse sweep over top-ranked Kamehameha, 23-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-21, 15-5.

"I just came back from training with the national team, so I really had no rhythm with the boys," said Clini. "Basically had a week to prepare and we kind of had a bad connection in the beginning."

Winning in the face of an 0-2 deficit and the prospect of a second league loss just four games in was not lost on the reigning nine-time Division I state champions.

"The HBA game was kind of a shock but coming here at their home gym with probably the biggest crowd we've seen yet was good to see the boys be able perform under pressure. It was a big win," said Ian Kinney.

The fifth set, a 15-5 dismantling of the Warriors, proved to give fans a taste of what the Buffanblu seem to be capable of doing once its pieces are in place and tuned, as Punahou jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before Kamehameha closed to 5-3 on Kainoa Wade's 24th kill of the evening and again to within 3 at 7-4 on Wade's 25th.

That would be Wade's last kill of the night and the closest the Warriors would come in the final set, as the Buffanblu closed out the game on a 8-1 scoring run, highlighted by Matthew Chun at the service line for five of those points. Chun notched two aces in the span, more than atoning for some struggles early on the match on serve.

"Coach told me I got the green light and I was confident back there," said Chun.

Buffanblu senior OH/OPP Ian Kinney had a quiet 12 kills on the evening, which included six in the fourth set and two in the fifth, one of which put Punahou at match point.

"It was communication and gameplan," said Kinney. "When Kahale had a smaller block we gave it to him and he was the man tonight, but we just do our thing and communicate. Everyone contributed and it was a good win."

Kamehameha's block was dominant in the early stages, notching 13 total blocks in the first two sets, led by Poukihi Awai's six (1 solo, 5 assisted), but only managed four in the final three sets. In contrast, Punahou struggled to slow down the Warriors' hitters early on, but the Buffanblu block surged in the final two sets with 10 total return to senders.

"We looked at where everyone was hitting," said Clini of adjustments made to the block in the latter stages of the match, "and said lets try and adjust a few things, we did it at the start of the third set and look at the end of the game."

Clini also had a team high four blocks, with a trio of Buffanblu with three apiece (Kinney, James Taras, Adam Haidar).

Service errors loomed large for both teams. The Buffanblu gave away a total of 11 points on missed serves in the first two sets, including the set ended in the first. On the other side of the net, the Warriors had 12 service miscues in the first two sets and 13 more in sets three and four.

What Punahou gave up in errors, however, they made up for largely via the ace, with a team total of 14 compared to just three for the home team.

"I had a little bit of trouble with the ball early on, but I just had to adapt, figured it out about midway through the second set," said Clini. "The one thing that we need to lock in and that we can control is our serving and our effort."

The win for the Buffanblu created a two-way tie with the Warriors at the top of the standings, with both teams at 3-1. Iolani and Mid-Pacific are tied for third in the league with 2-2 marks.

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