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Togafua, Na Ali‘i Rally For DII Volleyball Playoff Position

Among priorities for Aiea boys volleyball head coach Erin Coker will be to ensure that senior Perritte Togafau closes out his prep career the right way.

The 6-foot-2 Togafau was a key contributor at outside hitter during Aiea’s run to the state tournament last spring, and he’s been a fixture in the program since he was a sophomore.

“He’s grown a lot as a person and a player since his sophomore year,” Coker said of Togafau, who was an OIA Division II All-Conference player in 2014. “He’s come into his own. As captain, he’s had to think about others and not just himself.

“Mentally, he’s trying to support the team, and he’s been playing well, also. He’s a go-to person.”

Whether Na Ali‘i can capture the postseason magic of a year ago, when they were OIA DII runner-up, remains to be seen.

This time around, Aiea is in DI following a promotion in the offseason, and is currently in a fight for one of the West’s six playoff spots.

The team record was 2-4 at press time with four games remaining.

It was to play Campbell late last week and Mililani Tuesday. This Thursday, Aiea hosts Leilehua before closing out its home schedule April 14 against Radford.

The outcome of that match could figure especially big in Aiea’s post-season plans, as the Rams were tied at press time with Aiea for the last playoff berth.

Campbell, Mililani and Leilehua all were above Aiea in the standings, meanwhile, allowing Na Ali‘i the opportunity to move up in coming days.

In addition to Togafau, Aiea also features seven other seniors: Nicholson “Nick” Jack, Leit Kabua, Logun Morton, Bradley Padama-Kinere, Carlos Perez-Tauai, Tano Tedtaotao and Alesana (Jesse) Vaiaga’e.

Underclassmen Derek Buendia, Anetelea “RJ” Moli, Mose Salavea-Tuvaifale, Ariq Vergado-Duclayan, Travis Hauki and Teejay Tome round out the team.

It is Hauki, Aiea’s sophomore setter, who is the team’s leader-in-waiting. A starter as a freshman, Hauki has continued his upward mobility into his sophomore campaign.

“His leadership is going to come out when he’s a junior and senior,” Coker predicts. “As the setter, he’s the quarterback for the team, and he controls the game for us. He’s also our second-best hitter behind Perritte, but it’s hard for us to have him there, so he’s been setting in a 5-1 (alignment) most of the year.

“Both he and Perritte are very coachable — those are the kind of kids that you like as a coach. When you ask them to do something, they just say, ‘OK, coach.'”

With a large senior class set to graduate in May, Coker envisions Aiea in rebuild mode next season, but she likes the athleticism coming up from its freshman, sophomore and junior classes.

“They’re all on the same level, and we’re trying to teach them to be well-rounded, instead of being able to just play one (position),” she said. “Most are football and basketball players and wrestlers.”