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Johanna Kruize and Silerolia Gaogao provided a chunk of the offense for No. 4 Moanalua but it was Na Menehune’s balance that also contributed to a 25-17, 25-21 sweep of visiting Castle in a regular-season opener on Wednesday night.
Kruize hammered a match-high 12 kills, including five in an 11-2 Moanalua run to open the OIA East Division I match. Gaogao contributed nine more as Na Menehune setters Bryanne Yasui and Emree Sato distributed the attempts.
Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting knows when Na Menehune need a spark they can turn to Kruize and Gaogao on the outside. But they’re also working on diversifying the attack early in the season and Arendia Ruiter added five kills and middle hitter Katy Ehnstrom contributed four.
“We’re tying to get the middles a little bit more involved, the opposites a little bit more involved,” Cabanting said. “Because we have three attackers in the front, we’re trying to get it pin-to-pin so we’re a little more balanced.”
That effort hinges largely on the play of Yasui, a junior, and Sato, sophomore.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” Cabanting said. “I asked them at the beginning of the season, we’re going to run the tempo a lot faster, you’ll have big hitters coming at you so we have to make sure we just give them an opportunity to attack.”
After Yasui fed Kruize in the opening moments to send Moanalua to a nine-point cushion, Castle settled in to play even with Moanalua for the remainder of the set. But the Knights couldn’t make up much ground as Na Menehune got five kills from Gaogao and three more from Pumehana Nedlic, including a swing on set point.
The margin was far tighter in the second set as Castle edged out early, fell behind, then caught Moanalua again at 10-10.
Gaogao put down a kill to spark a 5-1 Moanalua run and Na Menehune stayed a step ahead the rest of the way.
After Moanalua took a 24-18 lead, Castle fought off three match points before Kruize ended the night with her 12th kill.
Shaney Tiumalu led Castle with eight kills.
“It’s great playing a tough team like Castle. They’re coached well so they knew where we were going to hit and they were able to adjust,” Cabanting said. “So on our part we had to figure out how to adjust.”