Electric crowd sees Kahuku outlast Mililani to defend DI OIA Girls Volleyball Championship

Electric crowd sees Kahuku outlast Mililani to defend DI OIA Girls Volleyball Championship


With a thrilling comeback in front of raucous fans from both schools, Kahuku dropped Mililani in five sets Wednesday night to repeat as the OIA girls volleyball Division I champion.

It took a mighty effort to put the 21-25, 25-17, 21-25, 27-25, 15-12 victory in the books at the Radford High gym, though.

In that crucial fourth set, the Red Raiders (13-0) clawed back from a 24-21 deficit to stay alive. One more point by the Trojans on any of three straight serves would have meant the title would have gone to Mililani (11-2).

Now for Kahuku, it’s on to the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the D-I portion of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships that start Monday.

“It’s unreal,” said the Red Raiders’ Mele Taumoepeau, who hit .438 with 15 kills, many of them at crucial junctures, and added 12 digs. “My team was able to push through, especially in that fourth set. But we knew what we wanted, our mission, and we came here and did just that.”

 There is another mission that Kahuku shares with Mililani, and that’s to win a state title, something an OIA team hasn’t done since the Red Raiders won it in 2002.

“We want to end up there (as champions) on that Saturday night,” Taumoepeau said.

The 20-year OIA drought is not lost on the Trojans, either.

“Of course, definitely,” said Mililani setter Anae Asuncion, who had 43 assists, when asked if an OIA team can win D-I states in the near future.

Although the Trojans failed to regain the OIA crown they won in 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic canceled the 2020 season, they will still move on as an unseeded team at states.

“We really pushed to the best of our abilities tonight,” Asuncion added. “Especially since it was against Kahuku. They really are a strong team, but we did absolutely amazing tonight. I wish we won, but it is what it is. We still have states.”

With a whopping 21 kills, the Red Raiders’ Cha’lei Reid led all players in that category. Three teammates reached double figures in assists — Dakota Keni with 19 and Madison Mamizuka and Dani Kapu with eight each.

Alexis Rodriguez (20) and Erica Roberts (14) were the Trojans’ kill leaders.

At various points in the five sets, there were 13 ties and nine lead changes.

Aside from leading the whole way in the second set, Kahuku led most of the way in the first and third sets only to watch it slip away both times. The same thing almost happened in the fourth set, when the Red Raiders frittered away a commanding 20-15 lead and somehow found a way to send the match to a fifth set.

When Reid’s match-winning kill hit the floor, the rowdy Kahuku fans stormed the court in celebration.

“We were really able to push together,” Kahuku’s Taumoepeau said. “Every time we were in a slump, we were able to come back quickly.”

OIA Football: Kahuku vs. Moanalua

OIA OPEN DIV FOOTBALL: KAHUKU 60, MOANALUA 7For visiting Kahuku, it was a tune-up for things to come. For Moanalua, it was a litmus test against the state’s No. 1 team. The result was hardly a surprise, with the defending Open state champion Red...

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OIA Football: Leilehua vs. Mililani

OIA OPEN DIV FOOTBALL: MILILANI 49, LEILEHUA 14The Trojans opened the scoring early and never looked back, routing the Mules 49-14. It was a night of celebration for both schools as it was Homecoming for Leilehua and Senior Night for Mililani.   1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q  FINAL...

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OIA Girls Volleyball: Leilehua vs. Aiea Recap

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OIA Girls Volleyball DII Championship: Waialua def. Kailua in Five

OIA Girls Volleyball DII Championship: Waialua def. Kailua in Five


Waialua made school history Wednesday night, winning the OIA Division II girls volleyball championship for the first time.

And that accomplishment was far from easy at the Radford High gym.

The Bulldogs were in a deep hole, trailing Kailua 2-1 in sets before a solid rally led them to the 25-16, 23-25, 11-25, 25-23, 15-12 victory

Alohi Garcia led the way for Waialua (6-6) with 15 kills,11 digs and an incredible seven aces. Kailia Phillips added 12 kills and nine digs, and teammate Brynn Basilio-Chun came through with 37 assists. In addition, Kanoe Santiago dug up 11 balls.

For the Surfriders (4-8), Ashlyn Tai had a match-high 20 kills while hitting .311, and three Kailua teammates wound up with double-digit digs — Hope Kepa (15), Sascha Sanchez (11) and Amber Tania Maikainai (10).

Throughout the match, there were 32 ties and 19 lead changes.

In that crucial fifth set, the Surfriders led 10-9, but the Bulldogs took control thanks to two clutch kills by Tehya Militante, one by Garcia and an ace by Phillips.

With the momentum of a three-game winning streak, Waialua heads to the D-II portion of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships that start Monday.

Kailua, which had its two-game winning streak snapped, will also play at states. The Surfriders were trying for their first OIA championship since 1981, before competition was split into two divisions.

Women’s Volleyball: Holy Names vs. HPU

Women’s Volleyball: Holy Names vs. HPU

HOLY NAMES 3, HPU 1 (21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 26-24)

  1 2 3 4 F
Holy Names 21 26 25 26 (3)
Hawaii Pacific 25 24 23 24 (1)

Leading the Sharks in kills was graduate student outside Riley Gill with 14. At the net, senior middle blocker Demi Winters combined for 3.5 blocks. In the assist category, sophomore setter Pua Beazley led with 25 assists, graduate student setter Maile Powell followed with 21 of her own. (hpusharks.com)

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Wide Receiver Coby Tanioka is Lighting It Up for the Castle Football Team

Wide Receiver Coby Tanioka is Lighting It Up for the Castle Football Team

Wide Receiver Coby Tanioka is Lighting It Up for the Castle Football Team

Castle is not near the top of the charts in many categories this football season, but one place where the Knights are getting A-plus play is at wide receiver, and Coby Tanioka is leading that charge.

The senior is the state’s leading receiver among Division I (middle tier) players with 748 yards and seven touchdowns, and he also contributes in other ways with 127 yards rushing and six TDs, a 97-yard kickoff return TD and a passing TD.

And even though the speedy and shifty Tanioka is perhaps the brightest of the lights emanating from the football team’s campus in Kaneohe, he sees his teammates as the real shining stars.

“They always put everything they have into it and play to the last whistle,” he told Hawaii Sports Radio Network in a Monday phone interview. “They are always coming out to work hard, no matter that we’ve lost a lot of games. That’s the special thing about our team. Regardless of record, nobody gives up. Everyone wants to be out here. Our record doesn’t tell the full story. We have built a lot from last year.”

Photo courtesy of Coby Tanioka

In terms of wins and losses, the Knights (1-7, 1-4 OIA D-I) are not getting it done, but as Tanioka mentioned, winning is only one way to measure things. Two tough, close midseason losses — 41-34 to Kailua and 24-20 to Farrington — kept them out of something that was very do-able, the playoffs.

“Our game against Roosevelt (27-24 win) was one of our highlights, but I’d say that the Kailua (41-34 loss) game was an even bigger highlight because we came so close and that’s a rivalry game,” Tanioka said.

Believe it or not, Knights coach Junior Pale is not just Tanioka’s coach, he’s also a rooter of sorts.

“I’m a fan on the sideline,” Pale said Monday. “It’s just unbelievable what he does. When he catches the ball, it’s unreal. He’ll accelerate past the safety, who thinks he has an angle on him. When he runs, it’s like he’s floating and making cuts in the air and then he lands and boom. Just smooth.”

Pale mentioned two coaches he knows very well that give more credence to Tanioka’s prodigious ability.

“I’ve been coaching 35 years with Kip (Knights assistant Botelho, the former PAC-5 head coach) and he told me Coby is the best receiver he has seen. And Aiea’s Wendell Say, the first thing he said to me after our game (a 52-35 loss) is ‘Who’s that kid wearing No 2? He (Tanioka) was giving our defense nightmares. Is anybody (college scouts) watching him?’ ”

Photo courtesy of Coby Tanioka

If grades come into the conversation, the kid’s got that covered too.

“He was mad when he got a B and thought the teacher was wrong,” Pale said. “He went to see the counselor and it turned out he was right. He’s a high-standard kid in school and on the field.”

Another highlight for Tanioka is that he grew into a leader.

“This year, my role has gotten bigger,” he said. “I have to be a leader and the coaches rely on me a lot more than they did last year. It makes me a better person because of the need to fulfill that expectation.”

In Castle’s heavy package, Tanioka is a wildcat quarterback.

“He can play QB and slot and he’s a backup safety and backup cornerback, a real old-school, throwback kind of guy,” Pale said.
Another senior is having an outstanding offensive year for the Knights — quarterback Daunte Ching, who has 1,034 passing yards and 7 TDs and 518 rushing yards and five TDs.

In the winter, Tanioka is a guard in basketball and in the spring he’s a sprinter on the Knights’ track and field team. Last spring, he and his 4×100 meter relay teammates won the OIA title and he was an individual placer at the OIA and state meets in the 100 (fourth and seventh) and 200 (second and fifth).

“I’m hoping to do a lot better this year (in the sprints),” he added.

Tanioka would very much like to end this football season on a positive note Friday in the season finale at home against Radford. And he hopes to continue playing football in college.

“We want to finish out the season strong,” he said. “Then I’ll see how I do, see if I can get any scholarships and see what the best plans are from there, even if it’s at a small college.”