Cohesiveness Remains A Strength For Chargers’ Girls Volleyball

From the beginning of fall camp through the season, as well as the OIA tournament, the Pearl City girls volleyball team’s strength has been cohesiveness.

The Chargers are counting on their team unity to put them over the top once again as they prepare for next week’s Division I state volleyball tournament.

“That’s what we’ll stick by,” said Kory Toyozaki, who is in her second year as the varsity’s head coach. “We’ve stuck by our same 11 from day one to now. A lot of teams move players up from junior varsity or the Blue Team, but the girls who got us here are the ones that we’re going to go with.”

Making its third straight state tournament appearance, Pearl City had won five of its last six matches, heading into last Thursday’s OIA Consolation Round game. The lone loss came in their conference tournament first-round game to East power Castle, but the Chargers rebounded to defeat a solid Kaiser team, thus guaranteeing themselves one of the OIA’s six berths for next week’s state tournament. Pearl City took a 9-3 record into its late game Thursday, with its only losses coming to Mililani and Campbell prior to the Castle setback.

Pairings for states will be revealed over the weekend. Regardless of who its first opponent is, the focus for Pearl City remains on its own players rather than on any scouting report, to hear Toyozaki tell it.

“We were happy in our match with Kaiser to see them executing and doing the little things, like tipping balls and rolling balls in and using the block to get the kill instead of hitting every ball hard – things we’ve been asking of them in practice,” she said. “They believe now in the things the coaches have said. We have a big system (to run), and in doing the little things, they see what we’ve been saying. Sometimes we sound like a broken record to them in practice, but they’re seeing now that those things work. The light bulb has gone on.”

The need now is to play more consistently. “We usually have good starts, and then that fades as time goes on. We need to keep up our focus and our intensity to the last point.”

Defense wins championships, as the old adage goes, which can only be a good thing for the Chargers, who have been defensive-minded in their approach throughout the fall. “Our defense always has been our bread-and-butter, and now our offense is starting to balance it out,” Toyozaki said. “We’ve become more well-rounded with our offense coming around.”

Pearl City and Mililani are the only two teams from the OIA Red West to earn berths for the state tourney, as teams from the East filled out the other slots. Since breaking off into two Divisions in 2005, ILH has produced the DI state champion each year.