Annual Volleyball Tourney Serves Up Exciting Matchups

For local prep volleyball teams, the window of opportunity to play pre-season games generally is limited, as the start of league play is less than a month following the official opening of fall camp.

Teams that participate in the annual Longy Okamoto Girls’ Volleyball Tournament and other pre-season tournaments find they can make up for lost opportunities, however, with the promise of multiple games.

“A (typical) team will play nine or 10 games over the three days, and this will give the coaches an opportunity to see the combinations (personnel-wise) that work for them,” said Erin Okamoto-Coker, daughter of late Longy Okamoto and one of the organizers of the tournament. “It’s about seeing what the kids can do in a game-type situation.”

The 2014 Longy Okamoto Tournament is slated for next Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Aug. 21-23) at Pearl City and Waipahu high schools. (All varsity tournament matches will be played at Pearl City, while Waipahu will host a JV/Blue division tournament.)

As in past years, the varsity division of the tournament will feature a solid field that includes

Castle, Campbell, Hanalani, Kapolei, Maryknoll, Moanalua, Saint Francis, University High, Damien, Waianae, Waipahu and Waiakea. Among the participants, are three teams — Division I Moanalua and University High and Saint Francis from DII — that qualified for their respective New City Nissan State Volleyball Tournaments last November.

“Whoever has come out of it (the Longy tournament) usually is ranked pretty high at the end and goes pretty far in the state (tournament),” said Okamoto-Coker.

Longy Okamoto was a longtime volleyball coach and fixture in the community, having founded Kamalii Manaloa Club, in addition to having coached at McKinley, among other schools.

The Longy tournament was established following his death in 1995. Most recently, Pearl City and Waipahu have helped Okamoto-Coker, who is the longtime head boys’ coach at Aiea, in putting the tournament on.

“A lot of the hard work is done by (Pearl City athletic director) Reid (Shigemasa) and (Pearl City boys’ volleyball coach) Stephanie (Shigemasa),” she said.

The tournament’s field is divided into pools for the first two days, with their opponents for day three determined by the results of the first two days of play.

Since there are teams from the same leagues in the tournament, Okamoto-Coker said organizers try not to match conference opponents against one another since they will meet later in the regular season.

“They might end up playing against each other later, on the third day.

“Scheduling can be hard,” she said. “We have a mixture of OIA East and West schools and ILH Schools, and we try to separate them (in the first two days of pool play).”