honoluluadvertiser.com

Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 13, 2006

Punahou boys aim for third straight state volleyball title

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

To no one's surprise, Punahou again is the No. 1 seed and overwhelming favorite in this week's New City Nissan Boys Volleyball State Championships.

The two-time defending champion Buffanblu swept Kamehameha 25-9, 25-16 on Nov. 2 to clinch their third straight Interscholastic League of Honolulu title with an unbeaten (18-0) record. They return 2005 Advertiser All-State first team seniors in 6-foot-7 outside hitter Spencer McLachlin and 6-3 setter Riley McKibbin, who have signed to play for Stanford and Southern California, respectively, on nearly full athletic scholarships.

A third All-State first team player, libero Erik Shoji, is a junior.

But McLachlin and McKibbin know first-hand that state crowns are never gift-wrapped and simply handed to Punahou, despite the school having 26 of them already in its trophy case.

When McLachlin and McKibbin were freshmen, for example, the Buffanblu failed to even qualify for the state tournament for the third consecutive season.

"Everybody thinks we should win it again this year, but it won't be an easy walk-through," McKibbin said. "Even our first game (tomorrow against the winner of Leilehua-Waiakea) could be a tough one."

No matter how talented, Punahou's past teams have been humbled throughout the season by playing in the extremely competitive ILH and through informal scrimmages against alumni that included Olympians and All-Americans.

Players like Mike Lambert (Stanford), Scott Wong (Pepperdine), Sean Scott (Hawai'i) and assistant coach Rick Tune (UH) have come back to campus over the years to let the current Buffanblu know what it's like to face the highest level of competition.

"Those are some of the best practices we have," McLachlin said. "The alumni are always giving back to us, because they care about how the team does now."

McKibbin said the intensity of the scrimmages is good preparation for what they will face in the ILH season and state tournament.

"Our league is loaded with (NCAA) Division I players, like Jordan Inafuku (Kamehameha), Brad Lawson ('Iolani), Tri Bourne (Maryknoll)," McKibbin said. "(The alumni scrimmages) make us better, because it shows us where we need to be."

Punahou coach Peter Balding, a 1977 graduate, said the alumni scrimmages "have always been a part" of the school's boys volleyball tradition.

"Way back, we had guys like Fred Hiapo, Tom Haine ... it's the culture we grew up in where the alumni are always giving back to the program," said Balding, who played at Pepperdine. "Now you see guys like Scott Wong, Mike Lambert, Sean Scott ... people did it for them, and now they find a way to do it for the guys on the team today."

The Buffanblu's long line of success in the state tournament began when Chris McLachlin (Spencer's dad) coached them to four straight championships from 1972 to 1975. Jim Iams took over the program in 1976 and won a state title that year, and also in 1980 and 1981.

Chris McLachlin said six Punahou graduates played in the 1978 NCAA championship match between Pepperdine and UCLA.

McLachlin then returned and guided the Buffanblu to seven straight state crowns from 1982 through 1988. The 1984 team, featuring future college standouts Trevor Schirman (UCLA), Hugh Foster (San Diego State), Sio Saipa'ia and Danny McInerny (both Loyola Marymount), is considered one of the best high school teams ever.

"I think all six starters on that (1984) team played Division I in college," Chris McLachlin said.

Schirman still holds UCLA's career blocks record and received honorable mention on Volleyball magazine's "All-Century Team."

Balding took over in 1989 and coached Punahou to state titles that year and 1990, then Scott Rigg took over and the Buffanblu won it again in 1992 and 1997 through 2000.

The 1991 team featured Lambert, Wong and Scott.

Lyman Lacro, a Waimea graduate, coached Punahou to three straight state championships from 1994 through 1996. McLachlin, Iams, Balding and Rigg all are Buffanblu alumni.

The school has a lunch-time intramural volleyball league for sixth-graders, but many of the varsity players have developed their skills by playing club ball in the offseason for Outrigger, ASICS, Onipa'a and Kuikahi.

McKibbin and Spencer McLachlin have attended Punahou since kindergarten and grew up in volleyball surroundings.

But Balding and Chris McLachlin said the popularity of club volleyball will increasingly spread the talent around the state.

"I think you're going to see boys volleyball get better everywhere," Balding said.

BOYS VOLLEYBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

DIVISION I

TODAY

AT MCKINLEY

6 p.m. Kamehameha-Maui vs. McKinley

7:30 p.m. Kamehameha vs. Pearl City

AT PUNAHOU

6 p.m. Leilehua vs. Waiakea

7:30 p.m. Kahuku vs. Kalaheo

TOMORROW

AT MCKINLEY

4:30 p.m. Kamehameha-Maui/McKinley loser vs. Kamehameha/Pearl City loser

6 p.m. Kamehameha/Pearl City winner vs. No. 3 Kamehameha-Hawai'i

7:30 p.m. Kamehameha-Maui/McKinley winner vs. No. 2 Roosevelt

AT PUNAHOU

4:30 p.m. Leilehua/Waiakea loser vs. Kahuku/Kalaheo loser

6 p.m. Kahuku/Kalaheo winner vs. No. 4 Lahainaluna

7:30 p.m. Leilehua/Waiakea winner vs. No. 1 Punahou

WEDNESDAY

AT MCKINLEY

6 p.m. Consolation match

7:30 p.m. Semifinal match

AT PUNAHOU

6 p.m. Consolation match

7:30 p.m. Semifinal match

THURSDAY

AT STAN SHERIFF CENTER

Noon Consolation final

1:30 p.m. Fifth place match

4:30 p.m. Third place match

7:30 p.m. Championship match

DIVISION II

TODAY

AT KAMEHAMEHA

6 p.m. Kalani vs. Seabury Hall

7:30 p.m. 'Aiea vs. Konawaena

AT RADFORD

6 p.m. Hawai'i Prep vs. Waimea

7:30 p.m. Honoka'a vs. Mid-Pacific

TOMORROW

AT KAMEHAMEHA

4:30 p.m. Kalani/Seabury Hall loser vs. 'Aiea/Konawaena loser

6 p.m. 'Aiea/Konawaena winner vs. No. 4 Hilo

7:30 p.m. Kalani/Seabury Hall winner vs. No. 1 Maryknoll

AT RADFORD

4:30 p.m. Hawai'i Prep/Waimea loser vs. Honoka'a/Mid-Pacific loser

6 p.m. Honoka'a/Mid-Pacific winner vs. No. 3 Wai'anae

7:30 p.m. Hawai'i Prep/Waimea winner vs. No. 2 Hana

WEDNESDAY

AT MCKINLEY

6 p.m. Consolation match

7:30 p.m. Semifinal match

AT PUNAHOU

6 p.m. Consolation match

7:30 p.m. Semifinal match

THURSDAY

AT STAN SHERIFF CENTER

9 a.m. Consolation final

10:30 p.m. Fifth place match

3 p.m. Third place match

6 p.m. Championship match

Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com.

• • •