Roosevelt, Moanalua win OIA volleyball crowns
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
The core of Roosevelt's boys volleyball team moved through the program together, providing leadership and cohesiveness.
Winning another O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red Division championship required that senior leadership and the emergence of players who once did not look in volleyball form.
"We got a good core of kids that grew up in the system together. We don't have a JV, but we keep all the freshman and sophomores and they practice together, and by the time they're seniors, they're ready to play," said Roosevelt coach Kaui Mendonca, whose team swept Kalani, 25-22, 25-20, 25-9, last night to win its second straight league title.
Senior hitter/setter Kainoa Mitchell, bothered by tendinitis in his right shoulder, finished with 12 kills for the Rough Riders (16-0) at McKinley's Student Council Gym. Fellow senior hitter/setter Joby Ramos had eight kills and junior middles Kaipo Pale and Pono Patoc combined for 14 kills, and their emergence has rounded out the team.
"Freshman year, they were raw," Ramos said of Pale and Patoc. "Now they're soaring. Their attitudes have improved a lot."
Ramos said the seniors "created an example for the rest of the boys and they followed it pretty well."
That time and experience together has been hard to beat.
"That attitude, they know what they want, they know what they're going to do," said Kalani setter Chase Suzumoto. "People who are beginners to the sport, some of them don't have that drive and energy. Some of us break down, but we have to bounce back."
Angelo Berardy had eight kills for Kalani, which fell to 13-4 with all its losses coming against Roosevelt. Both teams have qualified for the 12-team Division I state tournament, which starts Wednesday with matches at Kaimukī and McKinley.
"They're tough," Mitchell said. "Every time we play them, they keep getting better and better."
After two close sets, Roosevelt ran away in Set 3. Fotu Kulihaapai's serving helped the Rough Riders lead 15-2. He had three aces, two of which came when the ball clipped the top of the net and fell on Kalani's side.
"We kind of broke down, that just happens sometimes," Suzumoto said. "We learn from it and we go to states with that knowledge."
MOANALUA WINS WHITE AGAIN
The goal from the beginning was to repeat as White Division champions.
But to get there required tremendous growth from the Moanalua boys volleyball team.
"It was our goal since day one," said Moanalua senior hitter Shane Aquino, who had nine kills in his team's 27-25, 19-25, 25-17, 25-16 win over Waipahu last night at McKinley. "We had pretty much the same players coming back so we knew we had a chance if we worked hard and bettered our skills."
It was the second straight OIA White title for Nā Menehune (15-0). Both teams have qualified for the eight-team Division II state tournament, which starts Thursday with matches at Farrington and Kalani.
"I'm proud of how much we grew," said Moanalua junior hitter Richard Harpole, who finished with 15 kills. "We just grew as a brothers. It's a hugh brotherhood, we take no credit for ourselves ... everything is about the team. We're not individuals."
Tatupu Tatupu had 16 kills for the Marauders (12-3), whose losses all came against Moanalua.
"They're a very high intensity, well-playing team, very positive," Harpole said. "Guys like Tatupu Tatupu are amazing."
After dropping Set 2, Moanalua controlled the remainder of the match.
"We communicated better, we just jelled a lot better today," Harpole said. "We stayed focused and we executed. When it came down to it, we wanted it more and we showed it."
One of Moanalua's biggest learning curves of the season came during scrimmages against Maryknoll and Kamehameha. Nā Menehune thought they had speed, but the scrimmages showed there was more work ahead.
"We practiced a lot harder than we did last year and we trained a lot more," said Aquino, who had nine kills.