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Deep Red Raider Team Set For Girls State Volleyball Tourney

The Kahuku girls volleyball team has proven lately that there’s strength in numbers, and as it prepares for this week’s Division I state tournament, depth is a big factor in the team’s latest post-season run.

“I give them a lot of credit, even when they don’t get into a game, because in practice they’re always working hard and helping our first team get better,” head coach Camilla Ah Hoy said.

“The second team beats the first team in practice on occasion. We don’t have to rely on the first seven players. Anybody on this team could be a starter at this point. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.”

Kahuku entered last Thursday night in the driver’s seat to win the OIA Red tourney, needing only one more win to seal the deal, as it was the only team without a loss in the double-elimination format. (A Red Raider loss Thursday would have meant playing an additional championship-round game Saturday, which would mean less time to rest for states.)

“That’s not the route we want to take; we want to get that extra rest beforehand,” said Ah Hoy, on the eve of Thursday’s OIA finale.

At that point Kahuku had won seven straight since its only defeat of 2012 – a loss to Farrington when the team was short-handed because of injuries. The stakes are higher now with teams from the outer islands and the powerful ILH included in the field. (Pairings for the state tournament, which runs Tuesday-Friday, were to be revealed Sunday.)

Ah Hoy is less concerned with potential opponents than in her own team taking care of its own business. “For our girls, and I’ve been repeating this every day to them, it’s about the mental game. Kahuku is always physically talented. It’s the mental part that sets teams apart (deep into the post-season).”

Travel will figure into Kahuku’s daily routine with the first three days of the tournament playing out at McKinley and Kaimuki. The action shifts to Blaisdell Arena Friday. Kahuku will commute to town each day for its matches instead of staying at a hotel.

“We’re still in school next week, and most of our girls also have seminary (classes associated with their Mormon faith) early in the morning,” explained Ah Hoy. “We’ll be driving back and forth, and we’ll be doing it all over again each day for three days in a row.”

In addition to its depth, Kahuku has benefitted from balance. Adora Anae tallied a match-high 25 kills and three aces, and Pati Anae contributed 10 kills and a match-high seven blocks in their big win over Mililani in the championship round of the OIA Tournament last week, but Kahuku has had several different leaders on a nightly basis.

“Having a different kill leader every game is a plus,” Ah Hoy said. “A bigger plus would be having everybody be at their best on the same night.”

Defense remains the focus this week, as it has been since July, according to the coach. “We want to get our blocking and digging going because our offense will always be there, our serve-receive as well. Serve-receive (has) been our weakness ever since I was a player here, and all the teams know it. We’ve been doing a good job on it lately.”

It is exactly 10 years since Ah Hoy helped lead Kahuku to a state title as a player. The Red Raiders are also the last OIA team to win a state volleyball tournament.