Grinding Summer Workouts Ahead For Charger VB Team

For all its athleticism, the Pearl City volleyball team benefitted most from cohesiveness last fall, and second-year head coach Kory Toyozaki won’t mind if that’s the case in 2012.

The team takes its first steps toward that goal next week when it begins summer workouts. Fall camp starts in late July.

“They’re an easy-going group and very coachable,” said Toyozaki, who led the team to an 8-8 mark last time as well as a Division I state tournament appearance.

“We had no drama last year. They were very accepting (of new coaches). It’s the team concept (that was their strength). No one was selected First Team All-Conference from our team, even though we finished second (in the OIA Red West). They just played well together as a group.”

With Toyozaki’s arrival, 2011 was a transitional year, but those days are now in the rear-view mirror. “It was all new to me last year, but I’m more relaxed now (in the job),” she said. “They know what to expect of me, and I know what to expect of them. We have a good core group back, so we’re pretty excited.”

In all, seven seniors return, including Courtney Mersberg, Johnnai Kapue, Kacie Chinen, Janelle Fuamatu, Kaya Chong, and Tasha and Taylor Inong. “Six of the seven play club ball, which is good, and Janelle is a wrestler,” Toyozaki said.

Chong missed most of 2011 with an injury before returning for the last two matches as well as the post-season, but she’s back at full strength, according to Toyozaki. “She’ll be a great addition to us,” she said of Chong, who is 5-10.

Mersberg is the team’s lone All-Conference selection among returnees as an outside hitter, having earned a spot on the West’s Second Team.

“She’s a well-rounded player who can do everything,” Toyozaki said. “She was voted our MVP by the coaches. We’re not sure where she’ll play this year.”

Conditioning will be among a priority over the next several weeks as well as team-building. “We want to get that team chemistry back again. They’ve been playing with their club team-mates for the past six months, and we’ll be looking to get them back into condition.”