Return to glory: Kamehameha sweeps Waiakea for first D-I title since ‘14

  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Kamehameha’s Tiani Bello pushes the ball over the net Wednesday as the Warriors completed a perfect BIIF season, beating Waiakea 25-11, 25-18, 25-6 for its first BIIF title since 2014.

KEAAU — No doubt about it, playing at the top of its game, Kamehameha got the job done.

The Warriors beat Waiakea 25-11, 25-18, 25-6 for the BIIF Division II championship on Wednesday at Keaau High’s gym for their first title since 2014.

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For Kamehameha, it was a redemption tour with a cold dish of revenge served with torrid hitting as a side dish. It started a night earlier in a sweep over Hilo, a rematch of last year’s championship.

For Waiakea, poise and persistence got the Warriors seated across the table from their fellow Warriors. Waiakea looked calm as a clam and survived two Kealakehe attempts at match point in the BIIF semifinals.

Waiakea (12-3) hosts Kapolei in an HHSAA first-round game at 4 p.m. Monday. Kamehameha (15-0) plays in the state quarterfinals as the third seed Oct. 24 on Oahu against Monday’s winner between Punahou and Kahuku. Kamehameha-Kapalama is the top seed and opens against either Waiakea or Kapolei.

Last year was supposed to be Kamehameha’s time. The Warriors went unbeaten until running into Hilo in the championship. The Vikings made fewer errors, blocked better and pulled off an upset.

The redemption tour covered all the bases on Wednesday against Waiakea, which served tough and hit hard to no avail. Sometimes destiny is inevitable. It was simply Kamehameha’s turn.

Tiani Bello had 16 kills on 32 swings and hit .344, Nani Spaar had 15 kills on 32 attempts and hit .281, and freshman Taina Kaauwai added nine kills on 14 attempts and hit .571 for Kamehameha, which finished with 52 kills and a .350 hitting clip.

Bello added a double-double with 18 digs and setter Sierra Scanlan had 42 assists and 13 digs.

Kelsie Imai had four kills while Bethany Honma and Sierra K-Aloha had three kills each to lead Waiakea, which finished with just 13 kills and a negative .012 hitting clip.

Kaena Kekaulua had 12 digs to lead Waiakea, whose best offense was Kamehameha’s mistakes, 20 unforced errors.

Kamehameha came in highly prepared, not just for the BIIF postseason but states as well. The team went to the mainland last week and played in three tournaments, facing an upgrade in competition. The Warriors had already sharpened their iron.

“The teams we faced up there are as good as we’ll see at states,” Kamehameha coach Guy Enriques said. “If we were to face Kamehameha-Kapalama, we’ve already faced a team like them 15 times against those mainland teams. We’ve prepared for facing teams like Kamehameha or Punahou.”

Kamehameha has separated itself from the other BIIF teams with its ball-control. The team passes better in serve-receive and off hitting attacks. That often leads to clean sets from Scanlan.

When the passes are off target, the sophomore setter runs down the ball and still gives the offense a hittable ball. That explains her high assist total and percentage rate.

“All the great hitting is a credit to her,” Enriques said. “She’s our staple and core. She keeps her head and stays focused. She’s the core of our team.”

She’s also the future, along with the freshman middle Kaauwai. They’ll have a run at more BIIF titles. But it was the last dance for the seniors Spaar, Bello, Loke Kuamoo, Tihane DeRego, Shaneil Azevedo, Abby Alvaro-Thomas and Megan Baldado.

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Bello has seen it all. She’s been a four-year starter and like everyone in the BIIF thought it was Kamehameha’s year last season. After the dominant victory, she had just one thought on her mind.

“I just feel so happy right now,” she said.

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