Kalaheo: Balancing Its VB Firepower
In a sense, Kalaheo’s boys volleyball season began the moment the last campaign ended. A loss to eventual champion Punahou in the semifinals of the state tournament last May assured as much and set the tone for a demanding off-season.
“Our booster T-shirt this year reads ‘On A Mission,'” head coach Ed Chun said, “and the boys have been on a mission ever since we fell a little short. We’re excited to see what we can do this year. We’re not at our full potential yet, but we’ve been making good progress. It’s all about timing from here on out. We want to be peaking when we get to states.”
On paper, the Mustangs look right on schedule, having taken a 9-0 record into last Thursday’s matches with Kailua and Roosevelt. Those encounters were to close out their OIA regular season. Next up, they begin play in the OIA tournament, which will send its top finishers to next month’s state tournament.
Chun breaks the season down into three phases. “Our regular season is actually our preseason,” he said, “and the OIA playoffs are our regular season, and the state tournament is our playoffs. We use the (OIA) regular season to make our adjustments. Obviously, the state tournament is where we have to put it all together – the mental, emotional and physical parts. Those three have to be in place for us to be successful.”
While Chun’s current team is a mix of talented upper- and under-classmen, senior Silila Tucker has been the acknowledged leader, according to the coach. “In the OIA, Silila has been Player of the Year material. He’s well-balanced, and his leadership has improved throughout the year. His work ethic has been great – he’s always competing in practice.”
Chun also praised the play of seniors Michael Leong, Josh Ko, Sam Orcutt and Anthony Rowan.
Of Kalaheo’s nine wins to open the OIA season, all were two-game sweeps with the exception of 2-1 wins over McKinley and Moanalua. The Mustangs even swept the Kaiser Cougars, who were 8-1 through their first nine games. Chun credits team depth as a huge factor in their success, especially after Kalaheo lost Nainoa Frank and Reeve Troberg for the season because of injuries.
“We got pretty predictable last year as far as where the set was going. This year we’re more balanced in firepower, per se. We have some young guys in spots, and they still make some young mistakes, so we’ll need to make the adjustments necessary when we get into the clutch situation we’re going to be presented with (in the playoffs).”