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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

All-state volleyball teams
Kamehameha's Kneubuhl is boys Player of the Year

6-3 junior
Player of the Year
6-0 senior
5-11 sophomore
6-3 senior
6-6 senior
6-5 senior
Coach of the year

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 20-0 season, including league and state championships, brings rewards.

The Kamehameha Schools' boys volleyball team received some of those rewards today, winning Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and the three highest vote-point totals for players on the Hawai'i All-State team.

Junior Isaac Kneubuhl was chosen Player of the Year, coach Pono Maa was selected Coach of the Year while senior Rickey Estrada and sophomore setter Ainoa Miyashiro joined Kneubuhl on the first team.

In addition, Kamehameha senior David Hoke and sophomore Adam Tuifaga were chosen on the second team, which had eight players because of ties in the voting.

A statewide panel of 12 coaches and game officials selected the all-state team.

The other three players on the first team are seniors: Jonathan Grobe of state runner-up Iolani, basketball all-stater Ikaika Alama-Francis of Kalaheo and Kana Bento of the Big Island's Kealakehe, which took third place in the state tournament last month.

Kneubuhl and Estrada shared Player of the Year on the Interscholastic League of Honolulu team, selected by coaches. Kneubuhl won the state-team balloting by 20 points.

"Isaac is a complete player," Maa said. "He is an extremely consistent passer; he can attack effectively from the left front or right front, and he is even more dangerous from the back row.

"He makes plays on defense and can score points in bunches when his jump serve is on. He was our kill leader throughout the year and he delivered when things were on the line."

Kneubuhl got a match-high 18 kills in the championship match against Iolani.

Francis Aiu, chief of ILH referees, called Kneubuhl "the quintessential player. He does it all for his team. He passes, attacks, serves ... everything you could ask."

Maa said this year's Warriors were the "best team —chemistry-wise" he has coached in his six years at Kamehameha. They brought the school its first state championship since 1993 after several second-place finishes to Punahou.

Punahou, which did not get to the state tournament this year, had won the previous seven and 19 of the last 21 state titles.

The panel recognized Maa's consistency and professionalism.

"He has maintained a solid program, year in and year out," said coach Dan Molin of perennial state contender Seabury Hall of Maui.

"The kids on his team respect him and have confidence in him," said referee Aiu, and Maa has "confidence and respect for his players.

"He has the ability to recognize situations and make adjustments without offending his players. He has kept his and his team's attitude positive in every situation," Aiu said.

Estrada, who had 18 digs in the championship game, is the only repeater from the 2000 team.

Punahou's Kupono Nu'uhiwa, first-team setter last year, was hurt by his team not reaching states this year. Miyashiro, the new quarterback of Kamehameha's veteran team, was a landslide winner at setter this year.

Iolani finished second in its first state tournament appearance in years and won three all-state honors — Grobe on the first team, and setter Sean Carney and Tyler McCready on the second. Grobe got 17 kills in the state final against Kamehameha.

Alama-Francis, at 6 feet 6, and Bento, at 6-5, are the tallest players on the first team. Maui's 6-8 Dionisio Dante is the tallest on the second team.

Only setter was picked by specific position; other players were chosen according to a coaching philosophy of fitting positions to the best players.