Warriors sweep Vikings, win Division I crown


KEALAKEKUA — Like clockwork, Kamehameha-Hawaii played the big points better time and again, relying on ball control and a balanced attack to thwart Hilo and remain undefeated on Saturday night at Konawaena High’s Ellison Onizuka Gym.

Shae Kanakaole rammed 16 kills, and her outside-hitting partner Kaiulani Ahuna added nine kills as the Warriors swept the Vikings 27-25, 25-18, 25-15 to capture their straight straight Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I volleyball championship.

Jeyci Kaili contributed seven kills as another outside presence from the right side, while Pua Wong knocked down four kills from the middle for Kamehameha (17-0), which remained steady despite a tsunami warning.

Evalani Toledo drilled 10 kills, Amanda Loeffler and Leilani Smith had seven each and Kawehi Granito-Wallace had four kills to lead the Vikings (15-2), who couldn’t figure out a way to beat Kamehameha or stop Kanakaole and Ahuna.

Kamehameha will make its ninth straight trip to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament, and Hilo will go for the second year in a row.

The hope now for the unbeaten Warriors is to land the No. 4 seed from the HHSAA. That’s because the No. 3 seed usually faces the Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up, a tough draw for anyone in the quarterfinals.

Last season, Kamehameha was the No. 3 seed, drew ILH runner-up Kamehameha-Oahu and lost in straight sets. In 2010, the Warriors got the No. 4 seed, faced Kaiser of the Oahu Interscholastic Association and fell in five sets.

In 2009, BIIF champion Waiakea was the No. 3 seed, got ILH runner-up Kamehameha and lost in three. A year earlier, Waiakea was the No. 3 seed again, drew ILH runner-up Punahou and was swept again.

The third set summed up the ball-control issues for Hilo, which was trailing 18-12 and hanging on a cliff. The Warriors scored on a service error, a bad set, a Kanakaole kill and an ace. The teams kept trading points until Kanakaole blasted match point off a free ball — a favor the Warriors welcomed.

It went the other way in the first set. Kamehameha had 14 unforced errors but survived because Kanakaole had 10 kills to erase much of the mistakes.

In the second set, both teams made their share of unforced errors. The Warriors offered eight giveaway points; the Vikings had one fewer.

The last two points in Game 2 also highlighted Hilo’s habit of making life too easy for Kanakaole, who slammed a rocket on a free ball and drilled an overpass for set point.