Coach Velasco Is Good For Pearl City Boys Volleyball

Pearl City boys volleyball head coach Brennan Velasco will remember 2015 as the so-called transition year, which invariably goes with the territory for a first-year coach.

That he and his Chargers finished their season at last week’s Division II state volleyball championships was understandably a cause for celebration.

“It was a roller coaster of a season,” said Velasco, a former University of Hawaii and Pearl City standout, “but it was a really good experience for us. This was the first time we’d even been in an OIA championship game in a while, and I don’t even know the last time they made the state tournament.

“It was definitely a huge transition,” he continued. “I run a little different style offense and defense than they had, and it took me some time to get used to the kids and for them to get used to me. We anticipated it would be that way and were hoping to peak at the right time, and I feel like we’ve done that.”

The Chargers, who took a 6-6 record into the state tournament, won three of their last four games to advance to the OIA DII title game March 31. Pearl City lost to Castle in the OIA finale, but Velasco was proud of the Chargers’ effort, especially after losing senior P-Jay Solomon to a broken arm in the match.

“All the credit goes to our team for believing and trusting in what we’ve been teaching them,” Velasco said hours before Pearl City took to the floor for their state tournament first-round game against top-seeded Hawaii Baptist Academy. “I’m very proud of them. I think they’ve accomplished a lot. We’re pretty prepared for the state tournament.”

Velasco cited the senior leadership of setter Tyler Canon and outside hitter Garette Kanamu as having figured big in Pearl City’s success.

“Tyler is our captain and a coach-on-the-floor for me,” he said of Canon. “As our setter, he makes the team run.

“Garette has improved drastically from the beginning of the season to now,” Velasco added of Kanamu. “He’s been our kill leader in most games. He’s a goto hitter now.”

In the long term, the program figures to benefit from the addition of junior varsity boys volleyball. The OIA just completed its first sanctioned JV season, and Velasco is hoping to generate more interest and strengthen Pearl City’s numbers. The Chargers had just 13 players on their varsity roster this spring.

“We did lose a few (varsity) roster spots because now we have to fill two teams instead of one,” he said. “We were having a hard time recruiting players for the JV team. Hopefully, the varsity can show them that they can be part of a winning team.”

The program also gained added exposure with four appearances on statewide television, with the possibility of playing more late last week, depending on the results of the Chargers’ state tournament games.

“Last year they hadn’t had any, so they were extremely nervous,” Velasco said. “There’s definitely pressure.

“Now they’re used to it and just play. We’re just getting used to winning now.”

Pearl City has won 10 OIA boys volleyball titles in its history, with the last coming in 2002. Velasco was on the 1996 Charger team that won the title under then-coach Brad Comilla. He hopes there will be more.

“(Coaching at Pearl City) is a huge positive for me,” Velasco said. “I always wanted to come back here to coach.”