HILO – The 2002 Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation prep boys volleyball champion Waimea (8-1) found out Sunday evening that, despite past success at last year’s state championships, a credible showing in two preseason tournaments, and a strong regular season record in a highly competitive league, the Menehune would not receive one of four byes accorded to the top ranked teams at the Nissan Boys State Volleyball Tournament.
They will instead face the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up Waiakea Warriors (12-3) in Wednesday’s featured 8 p.m. contest at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
With their win over first round champ Iolani Saturday for the ILH boys volleyball championship, the defending state titlist Kamehameha Warriors (15-1 overall) earned the top seed in the upcoming championships, which runs from Nov. 13 to 16. The Oahu private school league has won 22 consecutive state championships from 1980 to 2001 and 27 of the 33 tournaments since the HHSAA was created in 1957.
Besides Kamehameha, Pearl City (12-1, OIA champ, second seed), Seabury Hall (11-1, MIL champ, third seed) and Kealakehe (14-1, BIIF champ, fourth seed) also received first round byes.
First round games begin on Wednesday, Nov. 13 as Iolani (14-2, ILH runner-up) squares off against Campbell (11-3, OIA 3rd place) at 3:30 p.m., Mililani (11-2, OIA runner-up) battles Maui (8-4, MIL runner-up) at 5 p.m., Kau (13-3, BIIF 3rd place) takes on Leilehua (9-5, OIA 4th place) at 6:30 p.m., and Waimea meets Waiakea at 8 p.m.
In last year’s state championships on Oahu, the Menehune shocked the previously undefeated MIL champ Maui Sabers to emerge from pool play before a heart-breaking three-set quarter-final loss to the Kealakehe Waveriders.
Earlier this year, the HHSAA switched volleyball from the traditional pool play to a conventional single elimination championship format that the basketball, softball and baseball tournaments currently use.
It had been thought by a few local pundits that Waimeas previous success, as well as a strong third place showing at their own preseason tournament, an eye-opening exhibition at the Kamehameha tourney (capturing the consolation championship as well as taking a game from the defending state champions), and an 8-1 record in nerve-hardening KIF play, might garner an opening night bye for the Menehune. Apparently it was not enough for the tournament selection committee.
Waimea outside hitter Joshua Vinzant ended up tied with Kapa’a’s Ricky Rodrick for the league lead in kills with 65 during the regular season. Erwin Wright led the KIF champions with 146 assists while Talon Abat chipped in with 57 in only 5 matches played. Junior middle Jeremy McDown led all blockers this season with 9 solo rejections and also assisted on a team-high 14 blocks. Desmond Rodrigues dug up a KIF-leading 48 saves to compliment his 6.5 kills per match average (52 total). Casey Kaohelaulii and John Karratti were also major contributors to the Waimea offensive game plan with 38 kills apiece. Defensive specialist Steven Fountain picked up 29 digs in the regular season while Mark Andres, Norman Vea, Michael Ishibashi, Shawn Kanahele, and sophomore Josh Cabral have come off the bench and played well for head coach Bobby Kamakele and assistant Darrick Peleras Jr.
The Waimea-Waiakea winner will take on the #2 seed Pearl City Chargers in Thursdays 6:30 p.m. championship quarter-final while a loss would relegate the loser to a Friday, 2 p.m. consolation match-up with the loser of the Iolani-Campbell opener.
Catch all the exclusive action from Hilo as the Garden Island Newspaper goes on the road with the KIF champs.