HHSAA Girls Volleyball
Warriors retain Division I crown with stunning sweep of top-ranked Buffanblu


Sat, Dec 11, 2021 @ Blaisdell [ 7:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
KSK (12-5) 25 25 25 - - 3
PUN (12-3) 18 15 22 - - 0
Kill: D. Kahahawai (KSK) 16 kills
Blk: B. Iosua (PUN) 3 blk
Ast: J. Matias (PUN) 27 ast

KAKAAKO — Run it back. 

Devin Kahahawai put down a match-high 16 kills, Maui Robins had 14 kills and 15 digs and Adrianna Arquette added a dozen kills to help No. 2 Kamehameha retain its girls volleyball state crown with a stunning sweep of top-ranked Punahou Saturday night. 

The Warriors (12-5) avenged four prior losses to the Buffanblu (12-3) this season with a 25-18, 25-15, 25-22 victory in the final game of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division I Girls Volleyball State Championships before a spirited crowd of about 1,000 fans — many of them students — at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena. 

The win was the fourth in a six-day span for Kamehameha and its third sweep in as many nights. 

It also served as the sixth meeting between the Warriors and Buffanblu this season.

Punahou, which won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu crown and was the top seed in the 12-team state tournament this week, was 4-1 in matches against Kamehameha coming into Saturday's title game. The Warriors' lone win over the Buffanblu prior to the state final was a five-set thriller back on Oct. 19. 

This one, however, wasn't anything like any of the previous five times the teams faced off this fall. 

Greg Yamamoto | SL    Purchase image

"In the locker room we talked and we said the first five times we met (Punahou) that wasn't the Kamehameha team we know, that wasn't us out there and we said, ‘They don't know the real Kamehameha volleyball program and we have to come out knowing our game, play our game and just come out banging,' " said Kahahawai, who earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. 

Robins, a fellow senior who was also named to the All-Tournament Team, echoed Kahahawai's thoughts. 

"I think today, we just knew that we had nothing to lose and throughout the season we just got closer and closer," she said. "I think, this week we just stuck together as a team; we were super close, we were talking on and off the court because we knew that whenever we played Punahou, they never got our best play, so we just knew we had to take it out tonight."

The Warriors separated from a 7-all tie in set 1 with a 9-1 run that was spurred by back-to-back kills by Robins from the left side and capped by her roll shot kill from the right side. 

Kamehameha led by as much as eight at 21-13. Punahou cut it to a five-point deficit at 23-18, but sophomores Arquette and Tia Kapihe combined for a block to set-up game point, which Robins put away from the right side with a tip that found the floor. 

The teams exchanged points early on in set 2, before consecutive Buffanblu errors were followed by back-to-back kills by Arquette in the middle to push the Warriors ahead, 9-6. It was part of an 8-1 run that led to a television timeout at 13-7. Punahou got a solo block from Grace Fiaseu out of the timeout, followed by a Lucky-Rose Williams kill to cut it to 13-9. 

However, Moana Peaua answered with one of her two kills in the match and Marley Roe served up one of her two aces to follow. A rotation violation on the Buffanblu pushed Kamehameha's lead to 18-10. An ace by Sierra Scanlan later in the set made it a 23-13 lead. A few points later, Arquette finished off game 2 with her third kill of the set. 

Arquette's 12 kills came on just 15 swings; she did not have an error, which translates to a lofty .800 hitting percentage. 

New City Nissan Girls/HHSAA Volleyball State Championships

Division I All-Tournament Team

Isabelle Iosua, Punahou
Emmalei Mapu, Kahuku
Jacyln Matias, Punahou
Payton Oliveira, Kamehameha
Maui Robins, Kamehameha
Zoe Slaughter, Moanalua

Most Outstanding Player: Devin Kahahawai, Kamehameha

"Not bad," Blake assessed of the sophomore's outing.

"You know, she's so physical and she actually plays a different position out of club, but she's such a great team player. She's so physical that we had to find a way to get her onto the court and last spring was her first time playing middle," he added. "As a second-year starter on our team, she found a way to make everything work offensively and even taking away her zone, making it a little bit easier for our defense; She did a great job."

The third set was the most tightly contested; there were six ties, the last coming at 10. The Warriors got a bit of separation thereafter, but never more than a three-point cushion. The Buffanblu got as close as 20-19 after back-to-back kills by Tanea Loa forced Blake to call a timeout — the only one he used all night. 

Robins revealed that Blake turned over the team huddle to its senior leadership. 

"He kind of gave me and Payton (Oliveira) an open mic to talk to our team and we just told our team that, ‘they're gonna keep firing back, they're gonna keep coming, it's up to us and how we mentally handle it,' and that we just needed to stay stable," said Robins, who will play collegiately at the University of Portland next year. 

Out of the timeout, Punahou hit a ball out and then Roe served up her second ace to give her team a 22-19 lead and force a Buffanblu timeout. 

Punahou again cut it to a single point at 22-21, but Peaua and Robins put away back-to-back kills to give the Warriors some breathing room and match point. After a Kamehameha net violation, Robins ignited the bench-clearing celebration with her tip from the left side for her 14th kill of the night. 

"It's so satisfying. It's so rewarding," said Robins, who missed much of the regular season due to an ankle injury. 

It is the program's 11th state championship under venerable coach Chris Blake. 

"I'm so proud of these girls, they're so resilient," he said. "They've been through so many challenges, not only on the court, but off the court, but we always believe that the strength of our team is the team and we really, really praise it and our job is to make sure we're playing our best match in the last match of the season and I think we were able to do some of that tonight.

Lulu Uluave paced Punahou with 10 kills and 12 digs. Melie Vaioleti tallied a match-high 16 digs and Jaclyn Matias had 27 assists, eight digs and a kill in the loss. 

Kamehameha hit .242 for the match, including a .314 clip in game 2. 

Punahou was limited to a .179 hitting percentage. 

"We just weren't in sync," Buffanblu coach Tita Ahuna said. "We didn't come out the way we normally come out and we just couldn't — I don't know if it was nerves, I don't know — but we just couldn't get really going, but like I told the girls, they fought hard. We had an amazing season and they should hold their heads up high."

The Warriors registered five service aces. Roe had two of them, along with 18 assists and a dig.

Williams had the lone ace for Punahou. She also posted seven kills and four digs. 

Kamehameha was playing in its 18th consecutive state final — a streak that dates back to the 2003 season. 

Punahou was seeking its first state title sine 2014. 

"I gotta give props to Punahou, they had an amazing season and for coach (Tita Ahuna) in her first season, to bring Punahou to the state championship game, that's awesome," said Kahahawai, who is signed with the University of Texas. 

The title game was a rematch of the 2019 state final, which Kamehameha won in four sets. 

"Hats off to Punahou for all that they fought, but we're really proud and our girls are so determined that we came out and took care of business in three," Blake added.

The Warriors have won the state title a record 23 times. 

"It's like a cherry on top to, not just an amazing season, but just an all-around amazing four years of high school," Kahahawai said. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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