'Iolani, Punahou gain title match
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
'Iolani junior Bianca Bystrom Pino was a team manager in the eighth grade the only time the Raiders won a girls state water polo state championship in 2007.
Yesterday, she put them back in contention for another when she scored with 22 seconds left in an 8-7 win over Kahuku in the Girls Water Polo State Championships.
"It was great to see it (as a manager) and actually be here for myself," Bystrom Pino said. "The team I used to manage for, they were really team oriented and all of them were friends and it's really similar to this team too."
Her shot was set up when senior Skye Kusao's shot hit the right post and Bystrom Pino put the rebound in.
"We practiced to keep it going until the end," Bystrom Pino said. "I thought, 'I'm going to be there for the rebound,' and that's exactly what happened."
'Iolani (7-4), the Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up, plays top-seeded Punahou (10-0), the ILH champ and two-time defending state champion, in the championship match tonight at 7 p.m. at the Veterans' Memorial Aquatic Center at the Patsy T. Mink Central O'ahu Regional Park.
'Iolani gained a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on goals by senior Kelcie Lei Nagata, Bystrom Pino and sophomore Nicolette Silva.
"We tried to still be aggressive and score because we knew Kahuku wasn't going to be held scoreless the rest of the game," 'Iolani coach Ian Kusao said. "We kind of got away from our game plan and Kahuku was really aggressive."
Kahuku (13-2), the No. 2 seed and O'ahu Interscholastic Association champs, tied it up at 3 in the second quarter on two goals by junior Keola Kahaulelio, who scored both on penalty shots, and another by junior Brooke Roy. But Kahuku also suffered a big loss in the quarter when Kahaulelio, one of its better players, received her third ejection and had to leave the game with 1:55 left in the half.
"It changed the complextion of the game," said Ian Kusao, whose own player, Nagata, a left-hander who added a dimension to the game, also received her third ejection and left the game in the third quarter. "We never played with her not in there before. She's played every game."
PUNAHOU 16, LAHAINALUNA 1
As it has all season, the Buffanblu relied on its tough defense, holding the Lunas to one fourth-quarter goal.
Senior Shayna Price scored five goals and senior Ashley-Anne Feria added four to pace the Buffanblu. Megan Steele added two and LillyBelle Deer, Abby Yosaitis, Chauncey Hirose-Hulbert, Brailey Hirose-Hulbert and Malia Schimmelfennig each scored one for Punahou.
"Our whole emphasis this season has been on our defense," said Punahou coach Ken Smith, whose Buffanblu outscored opponents 31-2 in the tournament. "The ILH championship game, last night, and tonight, it's been all about our defense. And I feel really good; our defense is in good shape."
Senior Jenifer Santos scored for the Lunas (11-1), the fourth seed and Maui Interscholastic League champion.