By KEVIN JAKAHI
Stephens Media Hawaii
HILO -- Kaiu Ahuna put on a hitting clinic with 25 kills, and Kamehameha’s firepower overwhelmed Hilo 25-14, 25-18, 22-25, 25-19 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I volleyball showdown on Wednesday night before a standing-room-only crowd of 500 at Hilo Armory.
The Warriors (11-0) jumped into the driver’s seat for the league’s automatic berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament awarded to the BIIF regular-season champion.
The Vikings (10-1) were plagued by early shaky passing and had no answer for Ahuna, who starred in her own highlight show with 12 kills in the second set, including four in a row at one point.
Harley Woolsey added 12 kills while setters Zoe Leonard and Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker took swings from the right side and rammed six and four kills, respectively, for Kamehameha, which had 54 kills.
Evalani Toledo, with her short, quick swing, slammed 12 kills and Amanda Loeffler, who has similar hitting mechanics, added 10 kills for Hilo, which had only 38 kills, a firepower deficit that made it difficult to create scoring runs.
Both teams were relatively close with unforced errors (hitting, serving, ball-handling). Hilo had 38 giveaway points to Kamehameha’s 35. The Vikings had more aces, 4-3.
But the biggest difference was Ahuna, who was at times unstoppable and brilliant, and consistent all match long: four kills in the first set, followed by 12 kills, four kills in Game 3, and five kills in the final set.
Her best work came in Game 2. Down 10-9, Ahuna, a 5-foot-9 junior outside hitter, caught fire and showed her wide range of hitting skills. She blasted a pair of cross-court fastballs, then rammed a cut shot inside the block and for a fourth straight kill finishing touch, she added a well-placed roll shot.
Next, Makekau-Whittaker had a block and the Warriors were up 14-10. Loeffler canceled that five-point swing with a kill. But Hilo’s momentum was short-lived.
Ahuna accounted for four of Kamehameha’s next five points with another brilliant display of shot-making: a running stab shot that found a corner, followed by an off-the-block kill. After a Hilo hitting error, the Warriors were ahead 17-11.
The Warriors main hitter continued her Game 2 hitting clinic with a line shot from the right post for an 18-12 lead. Then two points later, she came flying from the 10-foot line for her 11th kill of the set; she had six kills from the back row, including four in the second set, which concluded when Ahuna had another running kill that landed on a corner.
Hilo’s won the third set with hitting balance and help from Kamehameha’s mistakes. The Warriors had 15 unforced errors while the Viks had seven giveaway points. Loeffler and Toledo had three kills each and Keala Wilbur-Gabriel had two of her six kills in Game 3.
Kamehameha and Hilo have gone together to states the last two years as the BIIF champion and runner-up, respectively.