Surfriders Play In State DII Volleyball Tourney Next Week
What the Kailua boys volleyball team lacked in experience in February, is made up for with sheer skill, according to head coach Cheriesse Shiroma.
“They’re such good athletes, and they’re so coachable that those two things have made it work,” she said. “We have a lot of first-year players very eager and willing to learn, and they’ve picked up the game fast.”
Kailua had a run to remember at the OIA Division II post-season tournament with impressive wins over Kalani and Kapolei. The team advanced to the title game with Aiea and was to play before a statewide TV audience. Kailua also earned one of the league’s two berths in next week’s DII state tourney. At 8-6 through its first 14 matches, it has this week to prepare, with no matches on the slate.
“Right now, we have a relaxed focus, which is the best kind,” said Shiroma, who is assisted by coaches Nicole Ka’aina, Glenn Chong and Tee Maiava. “I want us to have what I refer to as ‘serious fun.’ When we play as if we’re afraid to lose, we don’t play well. Getting the win over Kapolei (in the semi-finals of the OIA tourney) was a great victory, but we want our actions to match our vision. They know what they need to do.”
With three sophomores logging significant minutes each match, veteran leadership has figured big for Kailua, in Shiroma’s view, behind captains Caleb Valero and Mau Thomas. Valero is a junior setter, while Thomas is a senior libero.
“Both have stepped up and been positive role models,” Shiroma said. “Because they’re learning together, they empathize with the first-year players and have led through positive rather than negative reinforcement. That’s helped to develop our team unity.
“Caleb has stepped up into his role and developed confidence, and he’s all over the court to get that set. Mau is actually a football player who joined us last year. He’s a great athlete who’s good at reading the defense. He’s good at refocusing the team, especially in practice.”
Rounding out the team are Christian Mejia, Okeanu “Anu” Kama, Nikolem “Niko” Noga, Peter Kanoho, Logan Myers, Christian Thomas, Christian-Taylor “Kamu” Scheer, Martin Tigilau, Kawehe “Hano” Kohatsu, Jarred Brito, Nilsson “Miga” Gaisoa and Desmond Lando-Alfafara.
Kailua’s best offense to date has been its defense. “Blocking will be a key for us (at states),” Shiroma said. “Our blocking has come a long way since the beginning of the season. We have good height – our (front) line is 6-feet and up, so it is definitely an asset to our game. We’ve been getting six to 10 blocks per match.”
The state tournament starts May 8 with first round matches at both McKinley and Farrington. The quarterfinals are May 9 at Farrington, with the semifinals and championship game at Blaisdell Arena May 9 and 10, respectively. Pairings for the tournament will be revealed Sunday evening.