Warriors close in on state berth with sweep of Na Alii
James puts down 12 kills as Kamehameha remains undefeated
PUKALANI — Eight wins are in the books for the Kamehameha Schools Maui boys volleyball team.
One more, and they can prepare for the postseason.
The Warriors beat King Kekaulike 25-15, 25-15, 25-12 on Friday night at Kamehameha’s middle school gym to put them just one win away from capturing the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season title and the state tournament berth that goes with it.
Kamehameha (8-0) swept Na Alii (4-4) a night after going to four sets against last-place Baldwin.
“We were expecting to go five (sets) against King K, just because they have a really good team and they have some really good players. I was expecting them to come out banging at us and we were prepared for that,” Kamehameha Maui coach Robert Brede said. “Coming off of Baldwin last night, we were playing at a lower level, so (tonight) we played at a high level just because we were expecting them to come after us.”
Coincidentially, the Warriors’ first opportunity to clinch the title comes Tuesday against Na Alii.
“We didn’t tell our team that we play them on Tuesday because we wanted them to come out tonight and play one game at a time and basically play the rest of the season one game at a time,” Brede said. “We’re not looking beyond that.”
Ethan James led the Warriors with 12 kills, while Hao Awai had 14 digs. Sophomore Sheldon Dudoit-Caban added six kills and three blocks. Together, the trio kept the momentum going in every set.
“I would like to thank them for stepping it up tonight after last night’s game,” Dudoit-Caban said. “Overall for today’s game, we stepped it up. … I’m confident going into the rest of the season because I know my boys will back me up.”
Kamehameha led 13-12 in the first set until Brennan Mendez made a crucial kill that led the team on a 6-0 run that Na Alii couldn’t come back from.
Jacob Wittenberg put down a few kills and Kai Carbajal came up with big blocks to help King Kekaulike keep it close early in the second set before the Warriors pulled away again.
The third set started close until Kamehameha went on an 8-0 run to take a 20-10 lead. A kill by Dudoit-Caban and a block by Mendez ended the match.
King Kekaulike did not keep statistics during the match.
“It’s hard to keep on a roll after some tough calls, but that’s how it is,” Na Alii coach Geoff Cook said of his team losing some momentum. “I think what it is, is putting things together and working as a team and in the whole scheme of things we have a great bunch of guys.”
* Dakota Grossman is at firstname.lastname@example.org