Pearl City Volleyball Faces Two Final Matches This Week

The Pearl City boys volleyball team’s greater chore as the regular season winds down is “to finish,” according to longtime head coach Stephanie Shigemasa.

The team enters its final two OIA matches Thursday versus Campbell and Mililani at home with their playoff hopes still hanging in the balance. Prevailing in close games has been among the team’s challenges this spring, although there was a ray of light in that regard when it edged Nanakuli 2-1 March 20.

“For us, getting over the hump and finishing that game was big because we’ve usually lost those games,” she said. “They were able to push through that one, and it was exciting for them. They were able to see the results of working hard.”

Pearl City has one of the youngest teams in the state and no seniors: Six juniors, five sophomores and a freshman fill out the roster. “It’s good that I’ll have everyone back next year,” Shigemasa said. “A lot of them are still learning the game. In the past, we’ve usually had kids who have played for a while.”

The team lost its first five matches before winning three straight (over Radford, Waialua and Nanakuli) prior to a 14-day layoff between OIA matches. The break allowed the Chargers to play in the prestigious Iolani Tournament over the weekend, where they were to play some of the state’s top teams. Pearl City’s pool included Moanalua as well as ILH teams Saint Louis and Iolani.

“It worked out good for us (schedule-wise) – we have some practice time, and we’ll have some tournament play (at Iolani) and game situations,” Shigemasa said.

This week, the focus is all on Thursday’s Campbell and Mililani matches. The top six teams from the West advance to the OIA Division I post-season tournament. The Chargers were clinging to the final spot at press time.

“Hopefully, it will help us to play at home,” Shigemasa said. “We need to win (at least) one of two. Two wins would be great. If we don’t beat Mililani, it could come down to our match with Campbell.”

While Shigemasa’s current team is inexperienced, the Chargers feature a taller roster than normal. “We have a lot of big kids at 6-2 and 6-3,” she said. “I’d say that our blocking has been one of our better assets. The inexperience has been the hard part. The mental part we’ve struggled with. For us, we just want them to play hard and be consistent in our play. They’ve had a hard time with that because of the inexperience.”

The OIA DI tournament runs April 8-26 at various sites on Oahu. The top five finishers will earn the league’s berths for the DI boys state tournament May 2-3 and May 9-10.