Kaua‘i Challenge coming

Players dig in to ready gym

by Dennis Fujimoto – The Garden Island

Teal Basquez squealed as she tried to keep her balance while her hands were occupied with a mop laden with water and grime Saturday.

Basquez’s rubber slipper had become victim to the task at hand, its rubber thong finally succumbing to the rigors of the cleanup effort.

“Look, coach. It broke,” Basquez said, holding up her foot with the slipper clinging on by its remaining thong.

She was one member of the Kaua‘i High School girls volleyball team who spent the day cleaning the school’s gym in preparation for the 7th annual Kaua‘i Challenge volleyball tournament which opens Thursday and runs through Saturday.

“It’s a tradition that was started by Richard Roberts,” said Wayne Doliente, a Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation volleyball official who was helping. “The girls have to do a service project and this qualifies since the gym needs cleaning.”

Doliente said last year, the girls went beyond the major cleaning and attempted to paint the gym before succumbing to being able to just paint the doors and trim of the building.

Joining the players were younger brothers and sisters, friends, parents and some community volunteers as the usual gym noise of volleyball practice was replaced with the high-pitched humming of vacuum cleaners and squeals as dust balls revealed its cargo to probing fingers.

When the doors open Thursday to the tournament, there will be 24 teams including those from Kaua‘i’s three public high schools taking to the courts.

The tournament is a high school girls varsity tournament, states a press release from Stephanie Iona, manager of the Waimea Plantation Cottages and will feature teams from California, Kaua‘i and the outer islands.

Dos Pueblos, Rim of the World, Saugus, Valencia, El Toro, Hart, Redlands, East Valley, St. Bonaventure and Rosary make up the teams visiting here from California.

Outer island teams include Roosevelt, Pearl City, Moanalua, Waianae, Molokai, Hawai‘i Baptist, Mid-Pacific Institute,

Seabury Hall, St. Anthony and Sacred Hearts.

Some 96 matches will be played over three days with games taking place at the Kaua‘i High School gym, the Kapa‘a High School gym and the new Island School gym.

According to the press release, many of the California teams are ranked in the top 10 of their respective CIF-Southern Section leagues and have participated in post-season play in 2007. The Neighbor Island teams represent some of Hawai‘i’s top teams from th OIA, ILH, MIL and the KIF.

Following pool play on Thursday and Friday, all teams come together to play in one of three divisions: Po‘okela, Olinolino or Onipa‘a for respective division championships.

Games on Thursday and Friday start from 1:30 p.m., and Saturday play starts at 8 a.m.

The Po‘okela division finals are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m., Saturday at the Kaua‘i High School gym.

The Kaua‘i Challenge started seven years ago with just eight teams participating, but through the efforts of Roberts and community sponsors, is now at 24 teams with more teams wanting to become part of the action.

Shelton Tang, a volunteer coach at the University of Hawai‘i for the women’s volleyball program, will be the overall tournament director as well as court director at Kaua‘i High School.

Dan Kitashima, a former head coach of Kamehameha Schools girls varsity program, will be the court director at Kapa‘a High School, and Debbie Koochi will be the court director at Island School.

Koochi runs the O‘ahu Volleyball Club and is on the committee that runs the USA Juniors Aloha Region Volleyball program and has recruited the majority of the officiating staff out of the OIA.

For information, visit the Travel International Sports site at www.tisworld.com or the Kaua‘i High School volleyball Web site at www.kauaivolleyball.com

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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