Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023 |
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• Getting great results at the net
Getting great results at the net
By Duane Shimogawa Jr. – The Garden Island
The buzz is still beaming around the island about the Kapa’a volleyball teams, who brought home a piece of history this past week with KIF championships for the first time in 35 years for the girls and 11 years for the boys.
Both head coaches, Kaipo Kealalio III (girls) and Merrill Carvalho (boys) will both go down in history as the coaches who turned around programs desperately needing winners.
However, both men coached their teams differently. Carvalho was more of the vocal, bubbly coach and Kealalio III remained a silent giant throughout the season, letting his players do the talking through their play on the court.
Both teams are different too. The senior-rich boys team, comprised of eight heavily experienced athletes (Nate Beralas, Henry Borges, Ray Chevlin, Wai-oli Forrest, Lyndon Pascual, Chris Ramelb, Chaz Galvez, and Kaina Kahaunaele) and the girls fielded only three seniors in Kennilyn Nakamura, Lauren Baptiste, and Amniesty Ragsac, a four-year varsity performer.
The Warrior boys mirror the type of team that the Kaua’i boys had last season, with a loaded gun of talent, which was spearheaded by the 6’8″ giant, Futi Tavana.
In his second year as head coach, Carvalho told me that the team started believing in him this year. Last season, Carvalho said that the boys were just learning his system and his way of doing things. After a couple of players quit last season, Kealalio III advised them to get back into the mix, when he coached the players on his club team.
Luckily for them and for the school, the boys came back and made a big difference. Carvalho also said that the boys saw how tough the team played the defending champion Red Raider squad last year and part of the decision to come back was weighed by seeing the others do so well. But with all of the heavy hitters (Brittney Carvalho, Ragsac, Poe Gantt, Pascual, Galvez, who made the title-clinching kill, Kahaunaele, Borges, and Beralas) on the team on both the girls and boys squads, the two setters, both juniors, are the “real” keys to why the titles are back on the eastside after a long stay in Waimea and Lihu’e.
Danny Rodrick and Joliann Arzadon made the difference for their respective squads by taking control at crucial points of their games this season.
Both have come into their own and found the confidence to lead their squads.
But it wasn’t always that way for the two Warrior setters. Arzadon mentioned that she had a little bit of an “attitude” problem in the past and she credited her teammates and coaches for steering her in the right direction. For Rodrick, no one expected him to be the player that he is today.
The multi-sport athlete, who also plays tennis, was a back row player for the Warriors last season and was used sparingly throughout the year in various positions.
However, Carvalho had enough trust and confidence in Rodrick to give him the nod at setter, the most crucial position on any volleyball team, just ask Kealalio III, who made his mark at UC-Irvine as a setter.
Even if you wear blue or red, it’s hard not to be a fan of the Warrior volleyball teams, who have rewritten the history books in KIF volleyball.
And if they bring home a state title or lose in the first round of the state tournament, it won’t really matter, because they’ll always have that one shining moment at the top of the KIF, even if it took a couple of decades to get there!
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