Punahou sweeps Moanalua to start annual Clash of the Titans

·5 min read

Apr. 16—Keau Thompson and Kahale Clini had eight kills each as Punahou swept Moanalua 25-12, 25-18, 25-19 in pool play at the Clash of the Titans on Friday.

A crowd of roughly 200 watched at Hemmeter Fieldhouse as Punahou remained unbeaten. A final pool match with Kamehameha-Hawaii at 10 a.m. today will determine the pool winner.

Keanu Kawaa, a 6-foot-4 senior, led Moanalua with 12 kills. Malu Wilcox had 13 assists and AJ Matsumoto added nine. Jaycen Bush, a sophomore, chipped in four kills.

Reserve power is deep for the Buffanblu, as always.

"They played great. That's how they look in practice. This kind of experience for them, you can't measure it. It's really, really great to see them performing at a high level that we see every day, " longtime Punahou coach Rick Tune said. "For them to translate that practice onto the court is a whole different ballgame, and we're happy they had the opportunity to do that."

In the opposite pool, Huntington Beach topped CIF division rival Redondo Union in four sets to take command.

"Lot of good volleyball today. That match could've gone either way, " Tune said. "We knew it when we asked them to come over. We're asking high-caliber teams over so the competition can go any way. We had, I think, two five-set matches today, multiple four-set matches. A lot of good volleyball."

Huntington Beach coach Craig Pazanti, a science teacher and head coach for the Oilers since 2009, was decked out in a bright orange aloha shirt. His team's efficient service is a big key to its success.

"It was a war, two teams coming from the same division of Southern California. It was a good win for us. We're both right around the Top 10 when we left for here. Being able to come out and play against a team we're a little more familiar with, it fired up the guys a little bit, " Pazanti said. "Redondo is a a good team. They're scrappy. It was a pretty even matchup. We just won a few points late in a couple of games."

Huntington Beach's middles—6-6 Michael Rini and 6-5 Drew Bjork—were exceptional, Pazanti noted.

"Both played great today. Both hit well over.600 for the match. When we're passing the ball, we become a little bit more tough to defend, " he said.

Rini is the smartest student on the team, Pazanti said, and has committed to play volleyball at MIT.

Punahou entered the annual tournament with an 11-0 mark in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play. Moanalua is 10-0 in OIA East play, but lost to Kamehameha-Hawaii prior to the Punahou matchup.

Senior setter Keegan Au Yuen had 19 assists in two sets before sitting for good in the third. Jack Lyons finished with six kills and an assist, and USC-bound Riley Haine had five kills before sitting in the middle of the second set.

Clini, a 6-3 sophomore, had all eight of his kills in the third set, along with an ace and two assists. Backup setter Aidan Rigg, a 6-6 junior, had 16 of his 20 assists and two kills in the third game.

Thompson, a high-flying left-handed opposite, drilled three kills in the opening set and added a block. Teammate Aidan Tune had a team-high four kills and Haine tallied three kills in Punahou's balanced attack.

Moanalua led 5-2 before succumbing to the serving of Haine and Matthew Chun.

Moanalua regrouped and was within 18-15 in the second set, but Teke Bower had three big blocks—and two of his three kills—to give the Buffanblu a key edge.

"I was thankful to rest the third set, give my body a little rest. I have a little bit of injuries right now, but it's OK. I can play through it, " said Haine, who has shin splints. "I'm super excited. I can't wait. We've just got to play our game."

KS-Hawaii has a long history of endurance and grit in Hawaii's state championship tournaments.

"They're a good team. They've got a lot of athletes. They're a little bit smaller, but they make up for it with their 40-inch verticals. They're all good kids and they compete hard, so we've got to be ready, " Tune said. "For us, it's all about what kind of energy we bring to the gym. If we bring high energy, we play like this. If we're low energy, we can get beat by anybody."

Meanwhile, Kamehameha outlasted 'Iolani 26-24, 23-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12 to stay in the pool title chase. The Warriors will square off with Huntington Beach this morning at 10.

"They're a good team. Our pool is kind a little funky. We could end up in some sort of tie if we don't win, " Pazanti said. "We were lucky. We were here on the island early so we came to the 'Iolani-Kamehameha (ILH ) match on Wednesday. So we got to see a little bit and we're a little bit prepared. We know we're going to get a whole bunch of Kanoa Wade on the right and they're going to be scrappy and play good defense, so we're going to see if we can battle with them."

Kamehameha coach Sava Agpoon likes the way his team played.

" 'Iolani is really consistent, always studying opponents. Their digging, it's double of what our kids have. We're pushing to be more aggressive with our swings, move our hits around rather than just hit to the libero, " Agpoon said. "We're tired, but excited, too, to try out more players. The good and bad is we're playing here during the (ILH ) playoffs."

Kamehameha plays Punahou next week in the ILH tourney.

"But the good (on this day ) is everybody played, " he said.