Punahou sweeps Kamehameha to capture another ILH volleyball crown

Apr. 26—Keau Thompson blasted 14 kills and Riley Haine tallied 10 as Punahou swept Kamehameha 25-18, 25-13, 25-19 to capture the ILH boys volleyball championship on Monday night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

Punahou (13-0 ) will likely receive the top seed for the New City Nissan /HHSAA State Championships (May 2, 5-7 ). The Buffanblu have won the past eight state titles and 37 in all. There was no state tournament in 2020 and'21.

A robust crowd of roughly 500 cheered the Buffanblu on as they took command in the opening set—without head coach Rick Tune. The longtime mentor missed his first match on the bench in more than two decades, according to assistant coach Brandon Kikuchi.

"This is the first time we've had to go into battle without Rick. It was a big growing opportunity for the boys as well as the coaching staff, and everyone was able to rise to the occasion together, " Kikuchi said. "Rick prepares the boys so well, they were able to step up without him. We had a quick FaceTime meeting with him before the game. (Assistant ) coach Shea (Suzumoto ), coach Colton (Cowell ), myself and coach Gordo (Gordon Horiuchi ) did the in-person walk-through. The boys work hard all year, in the gym day in and day out working hard, so they were ready."

Aidan Tune had never played a match without his father, coach Rick, nearby.

"It's a good win. We had a lot of guys who were sick or injured the week before, so it was good to get back as a team on one page and win this, " he said. "I've never really been coached by anyone else besides my dad, so it's an adjustment. I felt my dad here. He would say it's a good team win."

Punahou's stellar serve-receive stymied Kamehameha's dangerous service game. Haine and Aidan Tune (seven kills ) helped get the attack going, especially through the middle, where Brighton Yap became an X-factor. Yap finished with six kills and one of Punahou's five blocks. Senior Keegan Au Yuen dished 34 assists and added a kill.

"I'm super stoked after that good win for us, " Au Yuen said. "It's a super huge accomplishment. A little celebration after, but the game's over and we'll focus on our next important match."

Sophomore Evan Porter added three of Punahou's five aces. Thompson added the other two.

Thompson praised the passing of Haine and Tune, among others.

"Definitely Riley. Riley's always been good with it. Aidan, coming back after being sick the past week, " he said. "We started off shaky with passing, then it definitely got better. Kamehameha has pretty good serving."

Haine, who signed with USC, has some experience at libero. Haine didn't play the position on Monday, but he has invaluable versatility.

"I did play some lib for my 16s year when I was 14. I don't really like the position, " he said. "I'm super stoked. The job's not finished. We have one more obstacle to overcome and we're going to get it done."

Lai Hirahara led Kamehameha (9-5 ) with six kills, adding two assists. No other Warrior had more than two kills. Heston Cabinian had one kill in 23 attempts as the Buffanblu block smothered the two main hitters.

The Warriors played without 6-foot-7 freshman opposite Kainoa Wade, who has been ruled out for the season due to a lingering injury.

Thompson and Haine each had six kills in the opening set, which was close at 9-all. Kills by Thompson and Haine triggered a mini-run that pushed Punahou ahead, 14-10. Back-to-back aces by Hirahara helped Kamehameha stay close.

Punahou's lead was just 17-16 when kills by Thompson and Tune gave the home team some separation. An ace by Porter and a kill by Thompson closed out game one.

The Buffanblu were in control of game two from the start and never trailed. The visiting Warriors had six hitting errors and three service errors as Punahou eased to a 2-0 lead.

Kamehameha hung tough in the third set. Cabinian's roof on Thompson brought the Warriors within 11-8, but Punahou kept its foot on the gas pedal. Another Porter ace and a roof by Kahale Clini opened the lead to 19-11. Kamehameha chipped into the margin against some of Punahou's reserves, but Ian Kinney's roof ended the game and match.

"I'm excited. That was a fun win, " Thompson said. "But I'm just ready for states."