HHSAA Girls Volleyball
Buffanblu, Warriors set to square off for state crown


Thu, Nov 9, 2023 @ Moanalua [ 5:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
PUN (16-5) 25 25 25 - - 3
KSH (16-1) 18 18 17 - - 0
Kill: H. Marumoto (PUN) 15 kills
Ast: R. Binney (PUN) 32 ast

SALT LAKE — For the sixth time this season, Interscholastic League of Honolulu foes Punahou and Kamehameha will face off on the volleyball court Friday night. 

This time it'll be with some serious hardware at stake.

The title match of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division I State Championships will feature the second-ranked Buffanblu (16-4) and the top-ranked Warriors (16-1). First serve at the Cannon Activities Center on the Brigham Young University-Hawaii campus is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

Both Kamehameha and Punahou, the No. 1 and 2 teams in the ScoringLive Power Rankings, respectively, swept past their competition in Thursday's semifinal round at Moanalua to secure their spots in the state final. 

Punahou, the ILH runner-up, had little problem dispatching second-seeded Kamehameha-Hawaii in straight sets in the early semifinal. 

Haumea Marumoto put down a match-high 15 kills, Lulu Uluave recorded a double-double with 11 kills and as many digs and Rella Binney dished out 32 assists to go along with a team-high 12 digs to help the Buffanblu to a 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 sweep of the previously-undefeated Warriors. 

Punahou avenged a loss to KS-Hawaii in the quarterfinals of the state tournament a year ago, which was certainly on the minds of both Marumoto and Binney Thursday. 

"That was definitely our drive going in," said Marumoto, who took 33 total swings and hit .273 for the match. "We knew we're not going to lose to this team again. We know how it feels to lose and go down in this position and we want it more this year so yeah, we just went out and got it."

Binney echoed the thoughts of her standout outside hitter and fellow senior. 

"We were so hungry. Going into the game our mentality was definitely to just play as hard as we could, we didn't want to lose again to this team, especially not in the semifinal," she said. 

Despite an early 8-2 run in set 1 to take a 9-5 lead, Punahou found its eventually tied at 18 before it got three consecutive kills from Kealohalani Cox to put a 7-0 run to close out the set. 

The Buffanblu carried that momentum over into set 2, when it used an 8-0 run to take a 9-1 lead. The Warriors got to within a point at 12-11 after back-to-back Camryn Grace aces, but Punahou drew separation with runs of 6-2 and 5-1 to finish off set 2. 

The teams went back and forth for the early portion of set 3, but Punahou turned a 10-9 deficit into a 14-10 lead with a 5-0 run and stretched it to a 21-12 cushion. Uluave scored her team's final three points on a roll shot down the line and a two-handed push into the front corner despite a tight set. On match point, she found an open spot in the back row with another two-handed push kill to complete the sweep. 

Binney pointed to Wednesday night's quarterfinal against Mililani, in which the Buffanblu dropped the third set, as further motivation for her and teammates to finish off the Warriors in three sets. 

"Oh, definitely. I think the biggest thing about that set was we just let up and we made a lot of errors," Binney said. We gave them points and I think our biggest focus now is not letting up and fighting for each point because each point matters."

The Warriors were effective with their blocking early on in the match. They finished with six blocks to four for the Buffanblu. Binney said she was forced to counter KS-Hawaii's blocking scheme with her set selection. 

"I think as a setter I had to give a better spread to open up the outside. They were stacking on the outside, which made it hard for my pins to score and as the game went on I chose to set the middle and the opposite in order to give the outside a more lenient block," Binney said. 

Punahou's attacking percentage as a team went up with each set. It hit .077 in set 1, but went up to .111 in set 2 and .265 in the final stanza. Marumoto credited Binney for diversifying the offense, which eventually led to her getting more one-on-one opportunities. 

"I definitely personally started off slow because their block was really camping on us so we just adjusted by being confident and finding the shots and just eventually finding our rhythm. Rella did really great tonight; Her sets were great, as her usual," Marumoto said. 

Binney, in turn, praised Marumoto for her second prolific performance in as many nights; Marumoto turned in 20 kills against the Trojans Wednesday. 

"It's great. Once she gets on, it's really hard for teams to stop her and it's nice to have that power on the pin," Binney said. 

Cox totaled seven kills and five digs, libero Reese Teves tallied 10 digs and half of her team's eight aces. 

Maela Honma led KS-Hawaii with 10 kills on a match-high 51 swings, along with 10 digs. Maile Kuamoo had 20 assists and 12 digs and Kealohi Dudoit added 15 digs and an ace in the loss. 

The Warriors (15-1) were held to a .054 hitting percentage. 

In the nightcap of the semifinal doubleheader Wednesday, Kamehameha held off upset-minded Baldwin in three sets, 25-22, 25-20 and 25-20. 

Adrianna Arquette put down 13 kills with six digs, three aces and three blocks to help the ILH-champion Warriors return to the title game after a one-year absence. 

Kamehameha missed out on the state tournament entirely last season.

"It's great to be here," Warriors coach Chris Blake said. "We're happy to have the opportunity to be in this situation and looking forward to being able to go forth and play well."

Blake tipped his cap to the Bears, who were coming off of a hard-fought four-set win over Kapolei in Wednesday's quarterfinal round. 

"I'm really proud of the girls. That was a great team win for us. Baldwin is a great team. They put us into a lot of bad spots, they played with no fear and we had to play multiple balls. It was a great challenge for us and I'm really proud of our team with how we stepped up and faced through adversity," Blake said. 

The fourth-seeded Bears (14-2) hung tough until the latter part of all three sets. They fell behind early in the opening set, but got back in it with a 6-0 run that was capped by a block by Imani-Malie Hargis and Lilinoe Paschoal to to pull within a point at 19-18. Paschoal teamed with Kuulei Manaois for another block a few points later to knot it at 21. However, Tia Kapihe's kill off of a middle attack spurred a 4-1 run to close out the set for the Warriors. Arquette put away the final two points on back-to-back kills in the middle. 

Kamehameha never trailed in set 2 and led by as many as seven after a Kamanao Goldstein kill on an overpassed ball gave her team a 22-15 lead. Baldwin answered with a 5-1 run that included three kills by Ariana Naipo, but a service error gave the Warriors set point and a block by Alohalani Chun and Emma Lilo finished off the set. 

After the Bears recorded four team blocks to zero for the Warriors in set 1, the script was flipped in set 2. Kamehameha out-blocked Baldwin in the second set, five to zero. 

"I think we were able to find our rhythm in the second set and so on," Arquette said. "(Baldwin) put up a good block and we definitely learned from the first set."

The Bears led for a good portion of set 3, which featured five ties. The score was tied at 19 after kills by Manaois and Ariana Naipo on consecutive plays, but the Warriors scored six of the next seven points to wrap up the sweep. 

"We know Baldwin is a competitive team and we just had to bring it tonight and push through all the plays because they're a really scrappy team," said Arquette, who hit .312 for the match. 

Kamehameha hit .227 as a team to Baldwin's .121 attack percentage. 

Goldstein had seven kills and five digs, Kalaweloilehua Chock contributed seven kills and Lilo notched 31 assists, eight digs, three kills and three blocks.

Baldwin was paced by Ariana Naipo's 10 kills and nine digs. Amanda Naipo had seven kills and as many digs, Paschoal recorded 23 assists, five digs, four kills and three blocks and Natronai Anana chipped in with 12 digs. 

Baldwin will play Kamehameha-Hawaii for third place at 2 p.m. Friday at BYU-Hawaii. 

Kamehameha will try for its record 24th state title when it faces off against Punahou in the 7 p.m. title match.

The Warriors' last state crown came at the expense of the Buffanblu back in 2021, when the teams met in the championship final; Kamehameha won that match in three sets. 

Friday's showdown will be the sixth time the teams face off this fall. Punahou won the first time back on Sept. 8, but Kamehameha has taken the last four contests, mostly for the ILH title back on Oct. 26. 

"We've played Punahou a whole bunch. Their coaches have really got them going and fired up and so we're looking forward to the challenge to step up and have to play our best match of the season," said Blake, who has coached the Warriors to 11 state championships. 

The unseeded Buffanblu will be playing their fourth match in five days. They are seeking their 10th state crown and first since 2014. 

"I think we want it and we're hungry and we're going to come out fighting. We just have to play our best game and fight," Binney said. 

The Division I final will follow the D2 title match between No. 10 University Lab and No. 9 Mid-Pacific. First serve for that match is set for 5 p.m. at the Cannon Activities Center. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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