No Iolani team had ever won the championship game of its own Ann Kang Girls Volleyball Tournament, until today.
The Raiders, with their home crowd behind them, defeated Oak Ridge High School (Conroe, Texas), 25-18, 21-25, 15-9 to win it all Saturday afternoon in their lower gymnasium.
Iolani went undefeated the first two days of the tournament and found itself in a semifinal match against Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, California) an hour before the championship game. But if fatigue was affecting the Raiders they never showed it.
Iolani's outside hitting combination of Saige Kaahaaina-Torres and Elena Oglivie relentlessly struck down shots towards the Oak Ridge blockers, while first year setter Kristen McDaniel effectively put the ball in their hands.
Kaahaaina-Torres, last year's ScoringLive All-Hawaii Girls Volleyball Player of the Year and University of Missouri commit, led the way with 18 kills, one ace and an assist. Oglivie totaled 11 kills to go along with one ace and one assist.
"Saige is our only senior and she's just a competitor," said Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey. "She wants the ball, she wants to be set, so she just kind of carries us through moments and it's good to have the balance of Elena on the other outside."
The Raiders took the first set handily, mostly due to Kaahaaina-Torres and Oglivie combining for 15 points alone, but Oak Ridge didn't give up.
The War Eagles made a defensive adjustment in the second set and were able to slow down the Iolani offense while taking advantage of consecutive Raider errors.
Iolani's players looked somewhat stunned by the turn around, but Obrey was able to calm them down during the three-minute break.
"He told us to just play our game and to make sure we didn't doubt our responsibilities or play outside of who we are as a player, and once we stuck to that we did a really good job," said Kaahaaina-Torres.
Defensive adjustments didn't matter when the ball got to Kaahaaina-Torres in the final set. When she struck, she scored. The Raiders were able to use that energy to turn up the intensity on both sides of the net and cruise to victory.
"It's amazing, it hasn't sunk in yet," said Oglivie. "We're kind of a young team you know, but just how we pushed and how hard we worked in the gym and practices and stuff like that, to know that this is the first time it has ever been done feels amazing."
Obrey talked about his team's growth throughout the tournament as well as the momentum they'll be taking into the season after the win.
"We grew definitely, you know we have an interesting mix, we have a good amount of returning core kids that can definitely play and help us out, but we also have a few, a good handful of first year players, and for them to see this and go through this experience of the whole tournament, it's just going to help us," said Obrey.
Although her team had just won, Kaahaaina-Torres explained how the Raiders were going to use the tournament to improve.
"I think it's definitely going to push us to be better as a group," said Kaahaaina-Torres. "Me and Elena are definitely going to be pushing each other, so I think this is really going to help us be a better team in the end."
Iolani will look to use this momentum when they compete in the Kamehameha Tournament on Thursday, August 17.
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