Photos by Andrew Lee (http://www.twitter.com/HISportsPics
)By Wes Nakama
In an epic girls volleyball marathon that provided thrills to the last serve, Kamehameha outlasted 'Iolani, 24-26, 25-16, 21-25, 25-21, 24-22 Tuesday night in Interscholastic League of Honolulu action at Kekuhaupi'o Gym.
Pomai Recca landed 22 kills and Pikake Laumauna added 15 kills and four blocks as the Warriors improved to 12-2 in ILH play, 3-0 in the second round, with a showdown at first-round champion Punahou (13-1, 3-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Raiders fell to 8-5, 2-1.
Punahou has secured the league's first state tournament berth; Kamehameha and 'Iolani are battling for the second and final berth.
"Our team was depending a lot on this match," said Warriors outside hitter Pomai Recca, who notched a team-high 22 kills. "This sets the tone (for the second round), so now we know who we are and can pick up the progress."
Kamehameha, which has appeared in each of the past nine New City Nissan/Hawai'i High School Athletic Association State Championships -- winning six of them, faced an 11-9 deficit in the fifth set. But the Warriors tied it up at 11-11 after kills by Laumauna and Recca.
After Loxley Keala's kill put the Raiders back up at 12-11, Recca unleashed three straight kills to place Kamehameha at match point, 14-12. But Hoakalei Dawson answered with a kill off a block and a Warriors kill attempt landed wide to suddenly tie it again at 14-14.
Kamehameha twice reached match point again only to see 'Iolani tie it, and back-to-back kills by Haley Robinson stunningly put the Raiders at match point at 17-16. 'Iolani then pushed it to match point twice more, but the Warriors tied it both times and reached match point yet again at 20-19 on a middle attack by Laumauna.
But Dawson tied it again with another kill off the block and Keala twice got kills to put the Raiders at match point, 21-20 and 22-21. Recca then got a kill from the left side and 'Iolani's next attack went into the net to make it 23-22. Faith Ma'afala, who had two previous serve errors, then served a rope that went off two Raiders in the back row to finally end it.
"She had two bad serves earlier, but she ripped that one," Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said. "We were trying to put constant pressure on them."
Recca had nine kills in the fifth set alone, mostly on high sets to the left side.
"She was swinging well, and even when we had the block there, she was able to move it," 'Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey said. "She mixed it up well."
The match started much like it ended -- with back-and-forth, non-stop dramatic action. The Warriors got some early separation at 13-10, but the Raiders fought back and later took a 20-17 lead. Kamehameha was able to tie it again, however, and the teams traded points until 'Iolani finally ended it after a kill by Keala and a hitting error by the Warriors.
Kamehameha jumped out to a leads of 5-1 and 10-6 in the second set, before the Raiders came back to tie it at 13-13. Laumauna then had two kills and a block to spark an 8-0 run that made it 21-13.
The Warriors led 9-5 in Game 3 before 'Iolani caught them at 15-15, and the Raiders eventually took the lead for good and grabbed a 2-1 match lead on a pinpoint line shot by Keala.
The fourth set was tied at 16-16 before Alohi Robins-Hardy and Tiyana Hallums each got two kills to put Kamehameha up, 20-16. Robinson then got a kill and block and Anela Apo served an ace to draw 'Iolani to 20-19, but Kamehameha responded with three straight points and ultimately sent the match to a fifth set ... which was supposed to only go to 15 points.
"It was tough, both teams battled and left everything on the court," Obrey said. "It was high-level volleyball."
Keala led the Raiders with 22 kills, Robinson added 19 kills and two blocks, Dawson finished with 11 kills and two blocks and Eesha Chun-Dela Cruz chipped in with 10 kills. Hallums added 12 kills, Ma'afala finished with 10 kills, three blocks and two aces and Robins-Hardy and Kea Browne each added eight kills for the Warriors.