This win was bittersweet, to say the least.
Kamehameha-Hawaii will make its third consecutive appearance in the semifinal round of the New City Nissan/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Boys Volleyball State Championships Friday night, but it will do so without its best player.
Warriors' senior outside hitter/opposite Isaiah Laeha went down with a leg injury late in his team's quarterfinal win over Kamehameha-Kapalama at Kalani's Earl C. Holmer Gymnasium Wednesday night.
After the match — which KS-Hawaii won in four sets, 25-15, 25-19, 26-28 and 25-18 — Warriors coach Guy Enriques said Laeha's knee "popped out" and he does not expect him to be available for Thursday's semifinal against fellow-unbeaten Moanalua.
Before he suffered the injury in the fourth set of the match, Laeha had recorded 25 kills to lead all players. He had 13 kills in game 3 alone.
When asked what the loss of Laeha means for his team going forward, KS-Hawaii coach Guy Enriques did not mince words.
"Look and see what he did. I mean, he was carrying us almost all the way. I mean, this was his show. This was his time," Enriques said. "I feel sorry for that boy. I mean, he's been waiting four years to have his turn."
Laeha went down after taking his 58th swing of the match about midway through the fourth set. He took off from the back row and did not appear to make contact with any teammates on his way down, but collapsed almost immediately. Laeha was tended to by athletic trainers before being carried off the court.
Chase Carter, who had 12 kills and hit .450 for the match, said the rest of the Warriors buckled down after Laeha left the game.
"We just wanted to play for him, give everything for him, give everything to the team and play for each other," said Carter, a 6-foot-3 junior opposite. "Losing Isaiah is really hard on us. He's such a monumental player on our team, so maybe he can come back but right now we just have to pull tight and pray for him."
KS-Hawaii used an 8-1 run to seize control of the opening set, which it ran away with. Kapalama held a 16-15 advantage in game 2, but saw the Big Island Warriors closed out the set with a 10-3 run.
The teams went back and forth in game 3, but Kapalama scored the final two points on a solo block by middle Kahikimai Aliifua and a kill by Naone Passi, who finished with a team-high 13 kills.
"They upped their game a little bit more and then we let up, they started playing a lot better and I don't mind going a fourth set, as long as we come out winning," Enriques laughed. "You know what they say, ‘what doesn't kill you make you stronger,' but if we didn't go that fourth set, I wouldn't have lost Laeha."
Kapalama hit .310 in game 3, but just .057 in game 4. KS-Hawaii stormed back from a 9-8 deficit with a 7-0 run that was capped by Addison Enriques' line shot off a backset from Jai Makuakane.
Enriques ended up with 12 kills and a team-high 14 digs and Makuakane had 29 assists with 12 digs for KS-Hawaii (15-0), which hit .302 as a team.
Nainoa Barian-Garcia had 11 kills and Kobe Young added10 for KS-Kapalama (13-5). Matthew Saffery dished out a match-high 34 assists and Keaa Lum chipped in 15 digs in the loss.
Thursday's semifinals will take place at Moanalua. Punahou will play Mililani in the 5 p.m. match, while KS-Hawaii will take on Moanalua in the late semifinal.
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