HHSAA Boys Volleyball
Tavares Thompson, Haine fuel No. 1 Punahou in sweep of No. 7 Mililani


Fri, May 6, 2022 @ Moanalua [ 5:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
MIL (15-2) 17 15 17 - - 0
PUN (16-0) 25 25 25 - - 3

SALT LAKE — Keaukaiokaiwi Tavares Thompson had 17 kills and Riley Haine 14 to lead No. 1 Punahou in a sweep of No. 7 Mililani in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division I Boys Volleyball State Championships at Moanalua gymnasium Friday night. 

The Buffanblu improved to 15-0 on the season and will try for their ninth consecutive state crown when they take on No. 4 Moanalua in Saturday's 7 p.m. title game at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena. 

Thompson, a 6-foot-3 senior opposite, hit a staggering .609; the Ball State-signee recorded 17 kills against just three errors on 23 total swings. 

Haine, a 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter signed with the University of Southern California, posted 14 kills with four errors on 19 swings for a .526 hitting percentage. 

"They were huge for us tonight," senior setter Keegan Au Yuen said of the pair of pin hitters. "They pretty much did everything — back row and front row, from the service line — they're just really dependable guys; I'm grateful for that."

Punahou hit .493 as a team and held Mililani to a .046 clip. 

The Trojans (14-2) were ahead early on in the opening set. They scored four consecutive points — including back-to-back-to-back service aces by Trevin Matsuba — to jump out to a 5-2 advantage. 

But the Buffanblu answered by reeling off six straight points, including back-to-back aces by Tavares Thompson, to pull ahead. 

Au Yuen said the string of aces by the Mililani libero was just the kick in the pants that his team needed. 

"It was definitely a wake-up call for us because it was three points in a row so we wanted to get out of that real fast and I think that's kind of what got us going on our horse, so I was kind of grateful for that," Au Yuen said. 

Punahou turned a one-point lead into a double-digit cushion with a 10-1 run that included a couple of aces by Au Yuen. Mililani got to within 23-17, but Haine hit around the block for his sixth kill of game 1, which he finished off with a kill out of the back row on the very next play. 

Tavares Thompson agreed with his setter that Mililani's early run at the service line served an important purpose. 

"I think for us, we were kind of excited because we figured they would give us competition, so it felt good. It kind of put us in our place a little bit," he said. 

The Buffanblu held a slim 8-6 lead in game 2, but Tavares Thompson fired a laser from the right pin for one of his nine kills in the second stanza. That ignited an 11-2 run for his team that culminated with consecutive kills by Haine to make the score 19-8. Later in the set, Tavares Thompson slammed a kill from the left side, off an assist from Au Yuen, to finish off game 2, 25-15. 

Haine and Brighton Yap teamed for a double-block that gave their team a 6-1 lead in game 3. Mililani remained within striking distance at 17-14 following Brayden Yadao's kill, off an assist from his twin brother, Brycen. Punahou responded with a 5-0 run and eventually finished off the match with a Haine kill that was assisted by Au Yuen. 

Au Yuen finished with 41 assists and four digs. Aidan Tune hit .600 and tallied nine kills, along with five digs and a pair of aces, but middle hitters Yap and Teke Bower combined for only 11 swings and five kills — much to the chagrin of Au Yuen. 

"We kind of wanted to get the middle going, but to be honest, I struggled a little bit getting the middle involved, so luckily we have really big and physical outsides that did it for us, but we just want to get all the guys clicking all at once," said Au Yuen, who will play for Concordia-Irvine next year. 

The Buffanblu had 23 digs — led by libero Braydon Simmons, who had nine — and 45 assists, while the Trojans registered 12 digs and 20 assists. 

"I thought it was a pretty good game but there's still things that we can fix up, like our defense," Au Yuen said. "You know, (we) had some little patches that we need to fix, but overall I think we did a good job of executing."

Like Thursday's quarterfinal round, when the Puns cruised past No. 10 Roosevelt, they needed just a little more than an hour to dispatch their opponent Friday. 

"We definitely feel pretty good," Tavares Thompson said. "The last couple of days we just kind of found a good consistency and we're making sure we're executing each play with passing. Today with blocking was a little rough, especially for me, but I think overall we've kind found a really good even consistency with every technical thing."

Punahou took advantage of a distinct height advantage at the net with 5 1/2 total team blocks to two for Mililani. 

"Height is definitely a good thing for us, but I think overall we just kind of executed everything a little bit better than they did," said Tavares Thompson, who had three block assists. 

Manase Fetulimoeata led Mililani with eight kills. Brayden Yadao had six kills and Brycen Yadao dished out 12 assists. Matsuba had a team-high five digs in the loss. 

The Trojans, who finished second in the Oahu Interscholastic Association, will play No. 2 Kamehameha for third place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Blaisdell. 

Punahou will be trying for its 38th title in the 53-year history of the state tournament.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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