A familiar tune as Punahou wins 10th consecutive state title

May 14—It was a drive of destiny for the Buffanblu, bringing the koa trophy home from Laie to Punahou.

It was a drive of destiny for the Buffanblu, bringing the koa trophy home from Laie to Punahou.

Punahou's stunning 19-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-10 reverse sweep of second-seeded Kamehameha on Saturday night makes it 10 state titles in a row for Rick Tune's program. The longtime coach notched his 12th state title for the Buffanblu, losing a few notches on his belt buckle in the process.

"I haven't slept the past two nights, not much. It's been a challenging season for the boys, for the coaching staff, a lot of late-night hours, " said Tune, who had plenty of coffee to sustain himself. "I think every team walks their own path. The team this year had a very adverse path. We lose our starting setter (Aidan Rigg ) when he blows his ankle out. We lose Jack Lyons for a month with another ankle. Then we lose our first match to HBA. We were real wobbly. To get to this point, huge growth."

Punahou (18-5 overall ) had a knack for marathon success, as outside hitter Kahale Clini noted on Thursday after a five-set win over top-seeded Moanalua—overcoming match point in set four, down 24-21. Clini finished with 23 kills in 62 attempts, while Ian Kinney pounded 13 kills and Evan Porter had 11 kills for the balanced Buffanblu attack.

"I think everyone was just a little nervous. We were like, we know we're the better team. We have to start acting like it, " Clini said. "We started acting like it. Tia (Afatia Thompson ) comes in, he did amazing. Ian Kinney, amazing. Our setters, amazing. Everyone did so good. I'm so proud of everyone."

The ILH runners-up had split six matches with Kamehameha during league play.

"It's energy. Who wants it more is the main question, " Kinney said.

A big kill by Thompson during the third set seemed to spark the comeback.

"Sometimes all it takes is a big play to make the difference. All the stones thrown on the scale added up, " Kinney said.

Porter's optimism, like his teammates, never wavered through a volatile season.

"Kamehameha is a great team. We played a lot of great teams this season. It's about being able to come together as friends and brothers, and fight back. We've had instances where they come out strong, but being able to look at the person next to us and know they have our backs, we're able to fight back, " Porter said. "And executing our game plan. We're going to go home singing on the bus like last night. We're going to shake the bus the whole ride home. Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus. Whatever gets the guys going."

ILH champion Kamehameha (17-7 ) was chasing its first title since 2011. Kainoa Wade, their 6-foot-8 sophomore, had a match-high 30 kills in 88 attempts (.227 ). Conor Williams added seven kills and Heston Cabinian chipped in six.

"Kainoa Wade was not easy to stop. Let's get that off the table. He kept me up late at night, many nights trying to game-plan for him, " Tune said.

Wade kept his chin up despite the heartbreaking loss.

"I thank everybody for coming out, all the way here tonight, giving us support and letting us ride behind your backs. I'm sorry we came up short, but we gave it all we had, " he said.

For two sets, Kamehameha was in superpower mode as Wade got clean shots off and drilled 11 kills. Gradually, Punahou caught up to the Warriors' attack and got back in the match.

By the final set, two hitting errors by Kamehameha plus roofs by James Taras and Clini on back-row swings from Wade helped Punahou open a 5-0 lead.

Kamehameha got within 8-6, but no closer the rest of the way. Taras added a roof of Cabinian moments later as the Buffanblu took a 12-8 lead.

Clini's final kill made it 14-9, and a minute later, Kinney's right-side kill culminated one of the most epic underdog runs to the state title in years.

In Set 1, Punahou took a 3-0 lead, but self-inflicted errors added up. Clini had four hitting errors as the Buffanblu fell behind. The efficiency of Kinney, who had seven kills in Set 1, kept Punahou somewhat close.

Both sides endured lengthy rallies, and Wade was fairly quiet with just two kills until he drilled his second ace to give Kamehameha a 17-12 lead. Punahou finished the opening set hitting.061 with 12 hitting errors as the Warriors sometimes deployed a triple block on Clini.

The second set was close, with Kamehameha up 17-15 when Cabinian made a spectacular dive for a dig and Wade finished off the play with another kill out of system. The Warriors closed out the set with an 8-2 run, including an ace by Wade.

Punahou kept hope alive in Set 3, maintaining a modest lead most of the way. Porter added six kills during the third.

In Set 4, Punahou opened with a 10-6 lead and was getting wide-open looks. Thompson bludgeoned a ball down the middle, and Punahou's bench came alive.

Kamehameha surged ahead 21-19 in Set 4, after kills by Braellen Hoopai-Waikoloa, Cabinian and Wade. Punahou rallied and tied it at 22 on a roof by Clini on Wade, then took the lead on Thompson's roof on Williams. Clini then smashed the next two kills to win the set and send the match to a fifth.

"I'm going to sleep tonight, " Tune said.

Kamehameha entered the final with state crowns in 1991 and'93 under Reydan "Tita " Ahuna, two more titles in'01 and'02 under Pono Ma 'a, and one in'11 under Kainoa Downing.

Punahou's long list of legendary, championship-winning coaches goes back to'72, when Chris McLachlin started the Buffanblu on a run of four consecutive titles. Jim Iams Jr. led them to state titles in'76, '80 and'81 before McLachlin started another dynastic run with crowns from'82 to'88.

Peter Balding took Punahou to titles in'89 and'90, and Scott Rigg coached the'92 team to another championship.

From'94 to'96, Lyman Lacro guided the Buffanblu to titles, followed by Rigg again from'97 to'00. Balding brought Punahou back with a three-peat from'04 to'06.

Finally, Tune led Punahou to the first of 11 state titles over a 12-year span under his watch, , winning in'09 and'10, then starting a nine-year run in'12. There was no state championship in'20 and'21.