Wade's 36 kills fuel Kamehameha's win over Moanalua, return to state final

May 11—1/2

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Kamehameha's Kainoa Wade reacted after scoring a point against Moanalua during Friday's match at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.


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Kamehameha middle blocker Kaupo Hoopai-Waikoloa puts down a kill against Moanalua middle blocker Luke Jones (5) and setter Draider "Malu" Wilcox (23) during the third set.


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Maybe teammates open the lanes up for Kainoa Wade.

More likely, the 6-foot-9 spiking machine is the reason why middle Kaupo Hoopai-Waikoloa and outside Poukihi Awai were on a tear Friday night. Awai (.308) and Hoopai-Waikoloa (.500) tallied seven kills each as Kamehameha outlasted second-seeded Moanalua 25-11, 26-28, 25-20, 25-19 in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

"To me, the momentum looked like it shifted to their side, but to me, it never shifted. We had confidence and poise, and when you play with that, that's what happens," Wade said. "We've got a lot of options on this team. When we spread the ball out and score, we're unstoppable."

Wade was efficient once again with 36 kills in 60 swings with just five hitting errors (.517). In the quarterfinals, Wade had 20 kills with just one hitting error (.527) as the Warriors swept Hilo."We've got confidence in anything we do," Wade said. "We're rolling right now."

ILH runner-up Kamehameha will meet reigning state champion Punahou for the state crown today at Blaisdell Arena.

"That first set, (Moanalua) wasn't playing like themselves," Warriors coach Sava Agpoon said. "We had confidence in all our hitters. It's early, we can work the other way around. We know we have Kainoa towards the end."

Kamehameha's well-rounded attack included seven kills by Conor Williams and five by Christian Togiai (.308). Williams was key in the back row with a team-high 13 digs, while setter Brayden Van Kuren continued his standout state-tourney performance with 54 assists, adding two of his team's five aces, plus seven digs.

In all, Kamehameha overcame a Moanalua front line that had nine blocks in a win over Roosevelt on Wednesday. The Warriors hit .418.

It was Moanalua's first loss since preseason after going 14-0 to capture the OIA crown. Ezekiel Sablan had 14 kills and eight digs, while Jaycen Bush had nine kills. Na Menehune were limited to .224 hitting. Middles D'Angelo Ross and Luke Jones, instrumental in a quarterfinal win over Roosevelt, combined for six kills and 3.5 blocks.

Junior setter Malu Wilcox finished with 39 assists.

"Kainoa is a hard player to stop. Once he's on fire, he's on fire. You shut him down once, he comes back swinging," Wilcox said. "When he's down, his other teammates step up for him. Because of Kainoa, it opened up their middles."

The opening set was close for a moment before Kamehameha turned a 7-6 lead into a 14-point win. Wade had nine kills with just one hitting error as Moanalua's double block couldn't quite contain him.

The second set was a turnaround for the OIA champions. Wilcox set the tone with a no-look tip kill. Kamehameha still remained ahead for much of the set before Sablan got hot. After a roof by Sablan on Wade, Sablan's roll shot landed to give Moanalua a 19-18 lead.

Na Menehune still led 24-22 before the Warriors rallied for a 25-24 lead. A service error by Kamehameha's Kawai Koahou opened the door again for Moanalua. After a hitting error by Williams, Moanalua led 26-25. A kill by Wade tied it, but a kill by Sablan and a hitting error by Williams ended the set.

"We know how Punahou plays. We just have to make sure we take care of ourselves," Agpoon said. "Every single match, we've never been able to do that."

Punahou won all four matches against Kamehameha in ILH play. Two went to four sets and two were sweeps.