Chase for the Championship
Moanalua gets by Iolani, will face Punahou next


SALT LAKE — Cole Fukumitsu recorded 51 assists and four different players recorded double-digit kills to lead Moanalua to a four-set win over Iolani in the semifinals of the New City Nissan Division I Boys Volleyball State Championships Friday.

The scores were 25-15, 35-33, 29-27 and 26-24.

A late afternoon crowd of about 500 fans at Moanalua saw the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Na Menehune improve to 16-0 and clinch a spot in Saturday's state final against six-time defending champ Punahou.

Moanalua, seeded second in the tournament and ranked third in the Hawaiian Electric/ScoringLive Power Rankings, will be making its first championship match appearance since 2016, when it was swept by Punahou.

Second-ranked Iolani, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up, fell to 12-5. It was seeking its first state final since 2008, when it won the last of three state championship in school history.

Na Menehune have never won a state championship in boys volleyball.

"It feels really great and it's these kids just working their butts off from the beginning of the season all the way until now and coming together as a team and understanding that the only way they can get through to the championship match and do some good things against Punahou is to play as a team. I think off our hitting, off of our blocking, off of the serves, every single one of these kids contributed to our win today," Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting said.

Cole Fukumitsu (9) recorded 51 assists as four different Moanalua players recorded double-digit kills. Leighland Tagawa | SL    Purchase image

The statistics back Cabanting's claim.

Kalai Leopoldo posted a team-high 16 kills to go with 14 kills, Kainoa Ferguson had 15 kills — and hit .314 — with 11 digs, Max Slaughter contributed 14 kills with 14 digs and DiAeris McRaven added 10 kills with five solo blocks.

To be sure, Moanalua's hitters benefitted from the return of All-OIA East setter Cole Fukumitsu, who did not play in Thursday's quarterfinal sweep of Kamehameha-Hawaii due to fatigue.

"We've just been playing this whole week and I've been pretty exhausted so they decided to rest me that game so I would be ready for today's game," said Fukumitsu, a 6-foot junior. "I was still kind of feeling under the weather, but I was glad because I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday and I just pushed because I know the guys need me so I needed to be there for them."

Moanalua out-hit Iolani for the match, .218 to .131.

The opening set saw the Menes running on all cylinders offensively, when they hit .423 to just .077 for the Raiders.

"It's gigantic. It is so gigantic," Cabanting said of Fukumitsu's return. "We struggled (Thursday) night with our set location and we have Max, Kainoa and Kalai, they understood that and last night when the set just wasn't quite there, they were able to do something with it and find a way to get us the kill. With Iolani it's a little bit tougher and we needed the sets to be a little bit more precise so they can attack however the hitters wanted to instead of trying to salvage some of the sets we had the previous day."

Fukumitsu said the team's offensive balance was key to overcoming Iolani and its heavy dosage of University of Hawaii-signee outside hitter Cole Hogland, who finished with 22 kills on 55 swings — both match-high marks.

"Every single attacker I can trust and when I go to them I know they're going to put the ball away so definitely I can spread the offense around wherever it needs to be," Fukumitsu said.

After Moanalua ran away with the opening set, the teams went back and forth in a marathon second set.

University of Hawaii-signee Cole Hogland (11) finished with 22 kills on 55 swings — both match-high marks. Leighland Tagawa | SL

Iolani held an 18-15 lead only to see Moanalua score the next seven points to pull ahead 22-18. However, the Raiders eventually took a 25-24 lead. The teams exchanged points until Iolani broke a 33-all tie with a Hogland kill from the right side. Hogland then served up an ace, just inside the end line, to win game two for the Raiders and even the match at one game apiece.

The teams went beyond the 25-point threshold agains in game three. Moanalua held a 25-24 lead on a tip kill by Ferguson, but Iolani scored three of the next four points to pull ahead, 27-26. However, a Raiders' serve into the net tied it before Fukumitsu came up with a huge solo block to put his ahead by a point. An Iolani attack that sailed long gave the Menes game three, 29-27.

Iolani held leads of 4-0, 6-1 and 9-3 early on in game four. A net violation in favor of the visitors made it 11-4, but the Moanalua reeled off six straight points to pull within 12-10. Later in the set, the Raiders used a 5-1 run to take a 21-17 advantage that forced a Na Menehune timeout.

Moanalua answered with a 5-1 run of its own to even the score at 22. Iolani had set point at 24-23 after a Menes service error, but Ferguson put down a kill to tie it and Leopoldo went off the block and out to make it 25-24, Moanalua, before a Raiders' hitting error brought the match to a close.

Leopoldo said there was no time to fret after dropping game two.

"We just stayed focused. We just stayed mentally on it and we just kept going on and on," Leopoldo said.

"That's how you keep going, even in the fourth set when we were going back and forth, point for point," Fukumitsu said.

Kawika Lee had 12 kills and 14 digs and Ryan Van Cantfort chipped in with 11 kills and 10 digs in the loss. Shane Harimoto recorded 48 assists and libero Jarin Simon notched a match-high 21 digs for the Raiders, who will play Kealakehe at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for third place.

Na Menehune avenged a preseason loss to Iolani at the Hawaii Boys Volleyball Invitational in late March.

"We had a good fight with them in the first set. Second set, we kind of let off a little bit so we've been hungry for a rematch for a while," Fukumitsu said. "At this level it's really about who's more mentally tough, which team is more mentally tough and I think we really showed that we were more mentally tough today."

Moanalua and No. 1 Punahou will play at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena. That match will be preceded by the Division II state final between top-seeded Kapaa and second-seeded Saint Francis at 5 p.m.

Ryan Wilcox put down 15 kills as Punahou returns to the title game to defend its title. Leighland Tagawa | SL


Ryan Wilcox put down 15 kills and Kanai Akana added 11 as top-seeded Punahou beat fourth-seeded Kealakehe 25-13, 25-15, 22-25 and 25-14 in the late semifinal Friday. The six-time defending state champion Buffanblu (15-0) hit .357 for the match to .055 for the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Waveriders (14-3). Anthony Trevino had 16 kills and Isaiah Hooper added 11 for Kealakehe, which saw its nine-game win streak snapped and will face Iolani in the third-place match.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].




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