HHSAA Boys Volleyball
Punahou dominates for seventh-straight title


Sat, May 5, 2018 @ Blaisdell [ 7:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
MOA (16-1) 19 16 21 - - 0
PUN (16-0) 25 25 25 - - 3
Kill: R. Wilcox (PUN) 17 kills  Blk: K. Akana (PUN) 2 blk  Ast: J. McKibbin (PUN) 40 ast

KAKAAKO – In a rematch of the 2016 title game, it was déjà vu all over again as Punahou swept Moanalua, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21 in front of a crowd of 1,539 to win their seventh-straight New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Division I Boys Volleyball Championship at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Saturday.

Punahou dropped two sets all season to Maryknoll on March 29 and Kealakehe Friday night but rolled to a 16-0 overall record. Buffanlu head coach Rick Tune wins his seventh-straight title and ninth overall. The seven consecutive titles tie a title streak from 1994 to 2000. The Buffanblu's longest championship streak was from 1980 to 1990.

"I loved their maturity," Tune said of this year's squad. "When you have a veteran group like that, you say a couple things and they know what you mean. This group could shift to different gears seamlessly. You could see that tonight with the things we were able to do on the court."

Third-ranked Moanalua (16-1 overall) reclaimed the Oahu Interscholastic Association title this season and swept Kamehameha-Hawaii, a state tournament nemesis, and had to fight off No. 2 Iolani in four grueling sets in the semifinal round to return to the title game after a two-year absence.

Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting was proud of how far his team came along.

"I think these boys overachieved," Cabanting said. "We don't have that one big hitter or player who could get us out of trouble like when Austin (Matautia) was here. What they needed to do from the get-go was to become a team and understand that all six players and those on the bench to provide energy. That was the mentality throughout the entire season."

Ryan Wilcox led the Buffanblu with 17 kills and four aces. CJ Caraang | SL    Purchase image

Ryan Wilcox led the Buffanblu with 17 kills and four aces, Kanai Akana added 13 kills, Jameson McKibbin passed out 40 assists and Shea Suzumoto had a game-high 12 digs.

"My role is easy. The passing is great and when the guys make the plays they're suppose to make, all I have to touch the ball once and they put the ball away," McKibbin said of distributing the ball to Wilcox and Akana.

Punahou trailed 5-4 early on but went on a 4-0 run aided by a pair of Akana service aces to force Moanalua to call a timeout. The Buffanblu flexed its muscle and pulled away with a 19-11 lead. Na Menehune got within five, but Wilcox ended the set, 25-19, with a kill.

"They were a great team and we wanted to serve tough and key in on their middles. They have great middles. If we kept them out of system, they weren't able to set their middles," Akana said.

After seven lead changes, Wilcox's first service ace dropped in to make it 12-11 and Na Menehune called a timeout. Wilcox accounted for four-straight points off a kill and three-consecutive service aces to make it 16-11, and Punahou never looked back to claim the second set, 25-16.

"Ryan is a great player and that serve is a wicked serve. We had to be focused in and understand what's going on," Cabanting said.

"At that point, Moanalua was making a run. Him going back shifted the momentum for us," Tune said of Wilcox.

Wilcox, who will play at UC Santa Barbara this fall, said that stretch started to flow for him.

"Things were clicking for me I guess. We had a steady offense so I was able to go for it a bit. I felt the crowd and felt my friends supporting me," added Wilcox, who hit .361 for the match.

Moanalua tied the third set up at 7, but Punahou went on a 4-0 run. Na Menehune trailed by three midway through the set and then two twice at 17-15 and 19-17 off of an attack error and Fukumitsu's service ace. The Buffanblu started pulling away on McKibbin and Wilcox's kills. Kalai Leopoldo placed a kill to trail, 24-21, but Punahou completed the sweep after a Na Menehune service error.

"We kept up with them in the early going, and their big hitters eventually caught up with us," Cabanting said.

Punahou hit .279 for the match while Moanalua hit .131.

Na Menehune laid it out on the floor for 27 digs for the match and that effort impressed Tune.

"They were unbelievably scrappy," Tune said. "Some of the balls that were coming up, I never thought were going to come up. Credit to them. They played their hearts out tonight. What you saw were two really great champions and they are a great representative of Hawaii volleyball."

Duncan Clark led Na Menehune with seven kills, Max Slaughter added six kills and Cole Fukumitsu had 22 assists.

2018 New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball Division I All-Tournament Team
as selected by the media and the HHSAA

Kanai Akana, Punahou
Max Slaughter, Moanalua
DiAeris McRaven, Moanalua
Cole Hogland, Iolani
Jameson McKibbin, Punahou
Shea Suzumoto, Punahou

Most Outstanding Player: Ryan Wilcox, Punahou

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].




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