By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Kamehameha relied on its polish and an unstoppable one-two punch of Shae Kanakaole and Kaiulani Ahuna to hand Hilo a hard lesson: it’s best to bring your A game to compete with the two-time champs.
Kanakaole and Ahuna each knocked down 20 kills to power the Warriors over the Vikings 25-13, 25-17, 22-25, 25-17 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I volleyball showdown on Saturday at Koai‘a Gym.
The Warriors (10-0) looked like they were going to sweep after dominating the first two sets. They put down a ton of first-swing kills against the Vikings, who struggled with their ball-control — passing, serving and setting.
Hilo (7-1) had nice offensive balance, but little else in terms of ball-control issues. Middle blocker Chelzie Ulu, outside hitters Amanda Loeffler and Evalani Toledo and right-side hitter Leilani Smith each finished with 10 kills.
But the Vikings just had a tough time getting clean swings, and consequently committed a lot more unforced errors than the Warriors, 38-24. That 14-point difference was spread through the match, and proved especially helpful when Kamehameha went on long scoring runs.
Much like basketball, volleyball is all about runs and stops. For the most part, the Warriors strung together scoring sprees and the Vikings couldn’t stop them, despite setting its block on the left post to double-team Kanakaole and Ahuna.
The duo kept the Hilo block guessing, drilling seam and cross-court when the defense didn’t close quick enough, and hitting line when the block overplayed the middle.
In the first set, Kanakaole and Ahuna put on a tag-team clinic, taking turns cranking kills. Each compiled six kills, seizing the momentum early for the home team.
Loeffler was a force in the third set, hammering five kills. Ulu and Keala Wilbur-Gabriel, the other middle, provided additional offensive support with three kills each.
In a bit of late excitement, Ahuna planted a cross-court corner shot to trim Hilo’s lead to 23-22. Then Loeffler answered and the Warriors had a hitting error to force a fourth game.
In the fourth set, Zoe Leonard took over at setter and Acacia Kaaa moved to the right-side hitting spot. The lineup change helped open holes for Ahuna, who ripped nine kills in the final game.
During a four-point run, she had three kills and Leonard had an ace. Kamehameha had the momentum, again, and a nice 21-14 cushion.
From there the Vikings just couldn’t string together back-to-back points, and the final play summed up their day: a hitting error due to a bad set, keeping Kamehameha’s record clean and polished.
Kamehameha over Kealakehe 25-15, 25-20, 25-14
Hilo over Kealakehe 25-19, 19-25, 25-19, 25-17
Kohala def. Laupahoehoe 25-11, 25-18, 25-17
Konawaena def. Pahoa 25-18, 25-14, 25-17
Pahoa def. Honokaa 25-19, 25-15, 25-19
Konawaena def. Honokaa 25-23, 25-11, 25-17
Ka‘u def. Parker 25-10, 25-15, 25-5
St. Joe def. Parker 25-3, 25-13, 25-13
Ka‘u def. St. Joe 25-15, 25-13, 23-25, 25-20
Konawaena def. Pahoa 25-22, 25-18
Honokaa def. Pahoa 25-20, 20-25, 15-9
Konawaena def. Honokaa 25-20, 25-23
Kohala def. Kanu O Ka Aina 25-15, 25-8
Ka‘u def. HAAS 26-24, 14-25, 26-24
Kamehameha def. Kealakehe 25-8, 25-20
Kealakehe def. Hilo 20-25, 25-18, 15-10
Kamehameha def. Hilo 25-21, 25-18