Warrior boys take aim at state title

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Kapaa’s Rusdan-Rocket Ahuna bump sets for Justin Faidley as Kauai’s Joshua Garcia and Kapaa libero Pomai Rabago-Kaiwi follow the action in the third set during a KIF varsity boys volleyball match at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa, in this April 16 photo.

The Warriors, in the last two tournaments, reached the championship game — but fell short of claiming the top prize.

They aim to go all the way this time.

“That’s the goal, to be in that championship game and win that championship,” said Kapaa varsity boys volleyball head coach Kapule Kaona on Saturday. “Now that the KIF is finished, that is our focus. The thing I’ve been stressing this whole week is to not focus too much on the result. When you focus on the result too much, it tends to not reach that result. So, just more focusing on what’s going to get you to that end result. That’s what we’ve been focusing on in the gym, but that is the ultimate goal — to get that state championship.”

Kapaa High School, this year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion, is seeded No. 2 at the 2019 New City Nissan Boys Volleyball Championships-Division II state tournament, which begins Thursday. The seedings and brackets were released late Friday night.

“I think that’s a great seed for us. I think that’s good. It’s kind of what we expected with our record in the KIF and our finish from last year and our past history in the state tournament,” Kaona said. “It’s a favorable seed. I’m very excited. I think this year’s Division II tournament is going to be very tough from top to bottom with all eight teams.

“We had a chance to see some of these teams in preseason and also last year in the state tournament. A lot of these teams are a lot better from last year. From what we saw in preseason, I think this year out of the years previous will probably be the toughest year as far as tight and full competition between the teams.”

Kapaa (12-0 KIF) will play Hawaii Preparatory Academy, of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, in the quarterfinals Thursday at 5 p.m. at Kalani High School in Honolulu.

“They return a good chunk of their roster. I do know they have very good size. They’re a pretty big team on the net,” Kaona said of Kapaa’s upcoming opponent. “They have a couple of 6-3 or 6-1 players. I know they’re pretty big and pretty solid and sound from what they were last year.”

The Warriors went undefeated in KIF play and clinched this year’s title on April 16 in a straight-set win over Kauai High School. Kapaa then completed the unbeaten season on April 22 in a straight-set win over Island School.

Kapaa was the No. 1 seed in last year’s state tournament. The Warriors beat University Laboratory School (Interscholastic League of Honolulu) in the quarterfinals, defeated Pearl City High School (Oahu Interscholastic Association) in the semifinals and then lost to Saint Francis School (ILH) in the championship match.

Thursday’s schedule

Match 1: No. 4 Seabury Hall (MIL) vs. Makua Lani (BIIF), 5 p.m. at Saint Francis School

Match 2: No. 1 Saint Francis (ILH) vs. Nanakuli (OIA), 7 p.m. at Saint Francis School

Match 3: No. 2 Kapaa (KIF) vs. Hawaii Prep (BIIF), 5 p.m. at Kalani High School

Match 4: No. 3 Pearl City (OIA) vs. University (ILH), 7 p.m. at Kalani High School

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Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

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