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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Kamehameha opens title defense

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

"Being the state champion (20-0 last season), they probably will treat us as the team to beat," acknowledges Kamehameha boys volleyball coach Pono Maa, "but the league is getting real competitive."

The ILH season opens tonight with Kamehameha playing host to Lutheran at 7 p.m. Six matches are scheduled tomorrow afternoon.

"It's not just us and Punahou any longer," Maa said. "Iolani has great athletes and Damien and Maryknoll looked pretty tough in preseason tournaments.

"I feel good about our team. We have a nice mix of veterans and a couple of real young, good athletes. We're starting to grow."

The veterans include state Player of the Year Isaac Kneubuhl, first-team all-state setter Ainoa Miyashiro and second-team all-state hitter Adam Tuifagu. Maa says Kneubuhl and Tuifagu "are the most complete players in the league." Miyashiro and Tuifagu are juniors.

At Iolani, second-year coach Luis Ramirez says his team has "incredible athletes, winners who expect to win and have lots of respect for hard work."

Those include junior setter Sean Carney, second-team all-state last year, and state basketball Player of the Year Derrick Low. "Lowe amazes me," said Maa. "He looks like he plays volleyball year-round, but I know he doesn't."

Todd Blankenship, Chad Miller and freshman Kawika Shoji are other watchables for Iolani, which finished second to Kamehameha in the state last year.

Punahou, winner of seven straight state titles before last season, "may not have the big studs, but they always ball-control their way through the season," Maa said. "They have a great (coaching) staff and come prepared."

Punahou has won 19 of the last 22 state boys championships. Kamehameha won the other three.