Aiea Girls Volleyball Heading Into High-stakes Showdowns

The one-game-at-a-time mind-set that’s common for teams in their post-season already was in place in late July for the Aiea girls volleyball team.

A stretch of three straight road games to begin their Oahu Interscholastic Association West slate was one reason co-head coach Kory Toyozaki was on guard against her players looking ahead.

“It was a tough beginning to have our first three games on the road, but having three at home to finish is a good way to end,” said Toyozaki, who shares coaching duties with Blythe Yamamoto.

“We’re hoping our fans will come out and support the girls. We’re really going one at a time with this group. They weren’t used to winning last year, so we’re trying to keep them focused.

“Every team in the league is pretty solid – it doesn’t matter if they’re Division I or Division II.”

Much is on the line over the next two weeks for Aiea, which was one of four West Oahu teams still undefeated at 3-0 heading into the middle of last week.

Aiea hosts Waialua Wednesday before turning its attention to Saturday’s showdown at Pearl City. That game with the Chargers will be the final road date before a three-game home stand against some of the West’s elite programs – Mililani Sept. 25, Kapolei Sept. 28 and Leilehua Oct. 2. (All three were a combined 9-1 as of last week.)

West race aside, the Pearl City-Aiea matchup has been on both schools’ radar for another reason.

Toyozaki is a Pearl City graduate and was the Chargers’ head varsity coach last fall before moving over to coach Aiea in the off-season. She teaches in the special education department at Aiea High School.

Ironically, new Pearl City head coach Bryan Camello also is a teacher at Aiea in the same department.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited,” Toyozaki said of the Pearl City match. “It’s hard. Of course I want our Aiea girls to do well, but I also want the girls I coached at Pearl City to do well.

“We’ve scouted them already, and they’ve improved. It’s going to be about defense. Pearl City always plays good defense, and defensive play is what we’re stressing at our place as well.

“It’s their homecoming, so they’ll be pumped up. They have a lot of club players. We have to come in and play our game.”

Aiea’s rotation features Roina Ma’afala, Megan Ma’afala-Maiava, Destyni Grace, Leleo Maeva, Lole Kalani-Liulama, Mich’lae Higa, Katelyn Nakasone, Taylor Griep-Kadokawa and Paula Mao-Tamasese.

Na Ali’i went 3-0 during its three road games, posting wins at Campbell, Waianae and Nanakuli.

“We’re making slow improvement in all areas and hoping we’ll peak at the right time,” Toyozaki