OIA Boys Volleyball
Moanalua is still king in OIA boys volleyball


  



Wed, Apr 27, 2022 @ Radford [ 7:00 pm ]


FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
MIL (15-2) 17 13 22 - - 0
MOA (15-1) 25 25 25 - - 3
Kill: K. Kawaa (MOA) 24 kills

Once again, the Moanalua boys volleyball team showed why it is the premier program in all of the OIA.

In a battle between two unbeaten, Na Menehune churned out a straight set sweep over Mililani to capture their 11th overall league crown Wednesday night at Radford's Jim Alegre Gymnasium. Set scores were 25-17, 25-13, 25-22.

Senior Keanu Kawaa pounded out 24 kills to power Moanalua (13-0) to its third straight OIA Division I title, with the last wins coming in 2018 and 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the Na Menehune's championship wins have come since 2009 when they won back-to-back D2 titles before winning five consecutive D1 banners.

"It's just amazing to be able to lead my team in this match. I'm speechless right now," said Kawaa, who was the lone freshman on the 2019 championship team.

Kawaa was a threat anywhere on the court against the Trojans (12-1). Whether it be on the outside, right side or back row, Mililani had no answer for Kawaa, who hit over the block on multiple occasions. Kawaa was also a weapon at the service line where he recorded five of the team's six aces.

"He played really well today, couldn't ask anything more from the guy," Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting said of Kawaa.

Kawaa also stressed how important serving is to his team's success.

"Serving is really important for us because it helps put them out of system," he said. "It's just going to make it easier for us to play defense and block balls. We don't have to necessary shut them down, but just get a touch to slow the hit down so our defenders in the back row can play with it."

Kawaa's words rang true as Na Menehune totaled nine total blocks while holding Mililani to just 25 kills for the match. Keola Demello was the top blocker for Moanalua with two solo blocks and six block assists.

Outside hitter Christian Tafao had the next highest amount of kills with eight, which included an out-of-timeout spike from the middle that put Moanalua ahead for good in the final set, 23-22.

Logan Ho followed with four kills and Cody Bonilla and Keola Demello each had three more. Jaycen Bush rounded out the attack with two kills as setters Aaaron Matsumoto and Malu Wilcox each had 19 assists to pace Na Menehune. Libero Kaden Sato was also solid with seven digs and three assists, which included a bump set to Kawaa in the back row for the championship-clinching point.

Moanalua dominated the first two sets, but Mililani made Na Menehune work for it in set three. A few adjustments, which included a change at libero, said the Trojans and Moanalua trade blows for most of the final stanza.

Mililani took the early lead in set three before a solo block by Tafao tied things at 6. The Trojans would then be the first to reach 13 points with a 13-10 lead, but two consecutive kills by Kawaa and another by Bonilla tied it at 13.

A pair of Mililani hitting errors extended Na Menehune's lead as they started to pull away and took a 21-16 lead after a combined block by Demello and Tafao. The Trojans was able to regain the serve after the timeout and slowly clawed their way back and used four Moanalua hitting errors to tie the frame at 22, prompting a Moanalua timeout.

Cabanting said he stressed on putting past mistakes behind and hitting with confidence during the timeout.

"I told the guys we're never going to question whatever it is that we're doing," he said. "The priority is we attack. That's pretty much what was said in the huddle, to kind of get that confidence back to the guys. It's OK if they make a mistake."

Tafao, who had three hitting errors prior to the timeout, got his number called out of the timeout and promptly gave Moanalua the lead for good.

"We needed to go back to him," Cabanting said of the play call.

A tough serve by Wilcox on the ensuing point resulted in a Mililani attack failing to go over to set up the championship point by Kawaa off of Sato's bump set.

Brayden Yadao and Manase Fetulimoeata each had six kills to lead the Trojans in the loss.



Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].




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