Monday | September 25, 2017
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BIIF volleyball: Kamehameha aces big test, hands Hilo first loss

KEAAU — For much of the night, Kamehameha relied on its best three weapons to neutralize Hilo’s firepower on the volleyball court: tough serving, Nani Spaar, and Tiani Bello.

The Viking struggled all over the place with their passing in both serve-receive, where they couldn’t take clean swings, and off attacks with lots of free balls bumped over and no return fire offered.

Kamehameha beat Hilo 23-25, 25-19, 25-9, 23-25, 15-13 in a BIIF Division I showdown on Monday night at Koai’a Gym, where the entertainment picked up steam as the match got longer.

In a stat that summed up the match, the Warriors had 16 aces while the Vikings had just two.

The Warriors (7-1) remained in the hunt for the BIIF regular season title, which includes the league’s first berth to the HHSAA tournament.

Hilo (7-1) showed, once again, that no one in the league has its six-rotation strength but that mattered little with so much ball-control issues.

Spaar was crazy hot in the fifth set with seven kills, including match point, and finished with 28 kills. Bello kept powering down big slams and added 18 kills. Middle blocker Tehani Kupahu-Canon helped with seven kills.

Kawai Ua, Taina Leao, and Laurie McGrath each had eight kills and Lexi Paglinawan pounded seven kills for the Viks.

In the 25-23 first set, Hilo had much better balance; Paglinawan had four kills, Ua and McGrath three each, and Leao two. Spaar accounted for six kills, Bello five and Kupahu-Canon had two kills.

The Warriors hurt themselves with more unforced errors than the Vikings, 10-8, including a costly service error that made it 24-20. McGrath put down set point.

In the 25-19 second set, Hilo’s passing broke down with the serve-receive and transition passing. Summer Ah Choy dropped three aces, and the Viks sent a bunch of free balls over when digs didn’t go directly to setters Kailee Kurokawa or Makena Ahuna.

Bello and Spaar had four kills each but had help from their middles. Kupahu-Canon and Keane Farias added two kids each.

Hilo had 10 kills in Game 2 but 10 giveaway points. Kamehameha was more efficient with 12 kills and eight unforced errors.

Then it got worse in the 25-9 set, where the Viks suffered a flat tire with their serve-receive passing. They allowed a whopping seven aces. (It’s high number when a team gets five aces.)

Ah Choy dropped three aces, libero Seizen Alameda two, and Bello and Spaar had one each. Spaar racked up six kills to carry the load. As a team, the Viks had just four kills in the set.

But it wasn’t so much about kills. Hilo gave away too many free points with those seven surrendered aces and seven unforced errors. That left Kamehameha with only 11 points to score and too much of a free ride.

In the tide-turning fourth set, it was Kamehameha’s ball-control that broke down, particularly with four painful service errors.

The Warriors had a service error to push the Vikings ahead 23-21. Then had another to give the visitors a 24-23 lead.

Then the wobbly serve-receive bug was passed to Kamehameha. With Kurokawa at the line, she floated a ball over, and no one could pass it cleanly as it fell to the floor for game point, forcing a final set.

The powerhouse trio of Hilo, Kamehameha, and Waiakea has claimed the league’s two Division I state spots every year since 2007. In 2006, Kamehameha was the BIIF champion and Kealakehe the runner-up.

It’s looking like history will hold for another year. With the powerhouse trio’s first round over, the first rematch is next Thursday with Hilo at Waiakea.

In the junior varsity, Kamehameha defeated Hilo 25-20, 25-14.

 

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