Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 12, 2021
Lucky-Rose Williams And Jaclyn Matias Swing Big Showdown Punahou’s Way

We reached another first on the roadway to the opening of sports in Hawaii on Thursday night.

Any time the Punahou and Kamehameha volleyball teams get together, it’s a huge ILH showdown. The matches at Hemmeter Fieldhouse also gave the Aloha State just a little more feeling of normalcy because it was the first time the Spectrum OC 16 television guys were there to cover any kind of high school sporting event in 376 days.

That’s one year and some change, bubba. Crazy times.

As I walked in past the TV stage, I gave the peace sign to play-by-play announcer Felipe Ojastro and didn’t expect a response because I thought he and color man Kevin Wong were already on the air. But, sure enough they made time to say hello.

Color analyst Kevin Wong and play-by-play announcer Felipe Ojastro and the Spectrum OC 16 sports crew was at Hemmeter Fieldhouse to broadcast Thursday’s Kamehameha at Punahou boys and girls volleyball matches. (Bedrock Sports Hawaii photo by Nick Abramo).

 

Then, after the match, when I thought they weren’t on the air, I shouted out the “376 days” that they had been talking about on-air. Little did I know, they were still live. And so Felipe (what a guy!) gave a shout out to BedrockSportsHawaii as he was signing off.

Ahhh, but the girls match was the main event and so I’ll be giving you some insight in this space soon enough.

Live Blog Effort Probably Didn’t Get Big Readership Hits

It should be noted that I tried a LIVE BLOG for volleyball for the first time. I don’t expect that the post got clicked much, since there was absolutely no promotion for it, but if you want, you can check it out now here: https://bit.ly/39hgnmi.

When I was at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World, our live blogs for football games had a ton of readers. But this is a new time and … why not LIVE BLOG a volleyball match, too.

The night started with the boys match, which Punahou won 25-18, 25-18 over Kamehameha (1-1). The Buffablu (2-1) were led by Keegan Au Yuen’s 21 assists and Aidan Tune’s eight kills. If the name Tune sounds familiar, it’s not your imagination. That’s the son of head coach Rick Tune — a former star at the University of Hawaii and Pepperdine.

By the way, Rick Tune’s Buffanblu have won the last eight state championships. Maybe they can go for nine in 2022. There was no Hawaii high school boys volleyball in 2020 because of the killer COVID-19 pandemic and there will be no state tournament in 2021.

Looking For A Story Line

Getting ready for the girls match, I was thinking about a possible QUALITY story line that will pique the interest of readers. The most obvious was to catch up with potent Kamehameha hitters Devin Kahahawai and Maui Robins. They are ONLY juniors but it seems like they’ve been smashing the ball down for the Warriors forever.

After the match, coach Chris Blake said both are being recruited by colleges and have lots of options moving forward. He also said both players are the team’s only returning starters from last season (which was the fall of 2019). This 2021 spring season, for those who don’t know, was moved from the fall of 2020 due to the pandemic.

During the match, the 6-foot-2 Kahahawai and Robins had admirable performances, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Punahou’s steady and smooth assault.

So the story line shifted slowly and surely to two Punahou girls who led the Buffanblu to the 25-16, 25-18 win. They improved to 2-0, with Kamehameha dropping to 0-1

Williams And Matias Give Punahou The Ammunition It Needed

The first most noticeable Punahou performer was junior Lucky-Rose Williams, who (like Kahahawai) pounded nine kills.¬†She’s been waiting for this season to get going for a long time. She only played a little bit as a freshman in 2018 and was out all of 2019.

“It’s been a long time since I played school ball,” Williams said. “I was out last season, and freshman year I had to wait my turn, so this first home game I wanted to come out and show what I had. It was a good test to see where we’re at in the beginning of the season.”

The other obvious Buffanblu star on Thursday was setter Jaclyn Matias, another junior. She kept the locomotive going and, if anyone is doubting her ability, let it be known that she is already committed to play for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine. By the time she gets to the Manoa campus, maybe (and hopefully) COVID-19 will be long gone.

“We’ve been working on our connections in practice, running plays and the overall feeling of being comfortable with each other,” Matias said. “I play on a club team (Serve and Spike) with Lucky, so we’ve been getting a lot of reps together. (This win was) taking one step toward our goal of winning this ILH championship. It has been challenging in the past, but this season our team has a lot of strong pieces and we have a really deep bench, too.”

As for her future at UH, Matias talked about what the Rainbow Wahine coaching staff wants her to do in the meantime: “Keep working on myself, keep getting the reps in, working on perfecting my sets and connections with hitters and continue to be a leader on the court.”

 

Unmasked: Punahou juniors Lucky-Rose Williams and Jaclyn Matias led the way in a 2-0 victory over Kamehameha on Thursday night. They were careful to face the back of the gym rather than the front where lots of people were gathered to temporarily take their masks off for the photo. (Bedrock Sports Hawaii photo by Nick Abramo).

Punahou libero Kate Yoshimoto was also instrumental in the win, leading the Buffanblu defense against those potent Warriors strikes. Hitter Halo Yoshiki and middle blocker Belle Iosua also had a large hand in the outcome.

The Buffanblu Were The Last Team To Repeat As State Champions

Tanya Fuamatu-Anderson, the Punahou coach, had her players ready for this match. She knows it’s just one win, with many, many big tests coming up.

The care she has for kids was evident when she said, “Those people who are behind you (parents, friends, etc.) are not just behind you, they’re the wind beneath you.”


ALSO AT BedrockSportsHawaii.com — Hawaii Hockey’s First Lady: Punahou Alum Linda Desruisseaux

For Blake, although he didn’t say it Thursday, he has said it enough in the past for everyone in ILH volleyball-land to know: “The season is a process.”

The Warriors have been down (after big losses) before, and he is a big believer of improving every match. He also has a knack of getting his players at their best when it counts most at the end of the season.

“A lot of (the loss) was what Punahou did and it allowed us to see what we need to see in order to improve,” he said.”We were put in bad spots by their well-balanced offense and Punahou played very comfortable, very composed. They have a solid team. Very well coached.”

ILH girls volleyball in Division I has been contested by Punahou, Kamehameha and ‘Iolani through the years, but Le Jardin (a former D-II powerhouse) is going to challenge and nobody can take the other squad, Mid-Pacific, lightly.

Will It Be More Than A Three-Team Race?

The plan for BedrockSportsHawaii.com is to concentrate on covering the girls games when teams in the Big 3 go against each other. If coach Lee Lamb’s Le Jardin squad (or Mid-Pacific) knocks one of them off at some point, the plans will change.

Usually, girls volleyball supremacy is determined by state championships, but because the ILH is the only Hawaii league playing the sport in 2021, the league title is the highest any school can get.

So, here’s a little history:

>> Punahou was the last school to win back-to-back D-I state titles, in 2011 and 2012. After that, in order, the state champion was Kamehameha (2013), Punahou (2014), Kamehameha (2015), ‘Iolani (2016), Kamehameha (2017), ‘Iolani (2018), and Kamehameha (2019).

 

 

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