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Game of the Week
Michael Lasquero | ScoringLiveMarch 12, 2018, 9:44pm
Mon, Mar 12, 2018 @ Iolani [ 6:00 pm ]
A solid block along with execution down the stretch powered the top team in the land Monday night.
Punahou downed host Iolani in straight sets, 25-14, 25-20, 25-22, at the Lower Gymnasium of the Father Kenneth A. Bray Athletic Complex in a showdown between the top two teams in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Boys Volleyball Power Rankings.
Kanai Akana had a double-double of 13 kills and 10 digs while reigning All-Hawaii Player of the Year Ryan Wilcox chipped in eight more kills to help the Buffanblu (5-0) start the best of 5 portion of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I season with a win.
"I thought it went well," said Akana, who had a hand in three blocks. "I think we did a good job playing through adversity, especially in that third set. They're a great team so it's a good win for us."
Punahou recorded eight total blocks in the contest, with Ryan Hong, Claudio Clini and setter Jameson McKibbin having a hand in four blocks apiece.
Buffanblu coach Rick Tune said it was his team's best blocking match all season.
"They were really disciplined," he said. "I think in the first few matches our pin blockers were trying to block the ball instead of taking a spot. I think what you saw tonight is they just stuck with their assignments, took the spot, and it allowed us to play team defense.
"It's just the process of evolving as a player, evolving into buying into the scheme. The scheme is bigger than any one person so if one guys try to do his own thing, it kind of falls apart. We need to have all six guys on the court working together."
Punahou's block definitely affected the second-ranked Raiders (4-2) in the opening set as the Buffanblu were able to pull away for a convincing victory. Iolani also committed three straight hitting errors to end the frame.
The Raiders made adjustments after the first set and made the next two periods more closer, but the presence of a strong block kept Iolani on its toes throughout the night.
"I think we corrected that immediately, so that was nice," said Iolani coach Jordan Inafuku. "They have to challenge the block. It's a big block, but they have to hit high and hard into it. They're going to get blocked sometimes, but I thought they did a good job continuing to do that throughout the match and they covered well to give our guys second chances. It's not going to change. They're still going to need to hit high and hard into the block.
To Iolani's credit, the home team bounced back to take the early advantage in set two. The Raiders scored the first two points of the frame and led by three points at various junctures before Punahou tied the game at 10.
From there the two teams traded points and had ties five more times until Punahou took a 18-16 lead on a Wilcox kill, which forced an Iolani timeout. Ryan Van Cantfort had a kill off the block on the next point, but the Raiders never got any closer the rest of the way and dropped the frame by five points.
Third set was a similar story. Iolani actually held the lead for a while, even going up as much as 14-10, but Punahou came right back with six straight points to take a two-point lead.
Iolani was able to battle this time to tie it up at 18 and take the lead after University of Hawaii-bound Cole Hogland had a dig that went for a kill and a ace to make it 19-18 in favor of Iolani.
The two teams later tied the game at 21 and 22 before the Buffanblu rattled off three straight points to end the match.
Ethan Westcoatt and Ryan Van Cantfort each had seven kills to lead the Raiders in the loss.
Punahou will play its final best of 3 match of the regular season Tuesday night when it hosts Maryknoll. A win against the Spartans will clinch a state berth for the Buffanblu.
Semifinals feature Saint Francis vs. Damien and Lahainaluna vs. Punahou.
The Warriors edged defending champ Iolani to begin regular season play.
The Falcons have not dropped a contest in four weeks.
The Raiders banged 11 triples and outscored host Na Menehune by 13 after halftime.
Kapolei jumped out to a 21-4 first quarter lead and never looked back.
Warriors hit eight treys, never trailed the Hurricanes and led by as many as 36 points.