Team Hawaii riding the wave of success

It’s all sunny for the players fromthe Sunshine State so far at the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals. The Hawaii Under 18 team have an immaculate 3-0 record so far after defeating Holy Family Academy, Cagayan De Oro National High School, and University of San Jose Recoletos while dropping only one set. In an online interview, Bob Kawamura of the USA Volleyball Aloha Region shared more about this squad.

Forming the team

You might believe that the team has been playing together for a long time for they are performing as a cohesive unit. However, Kawamura shared, “We literally put our team together in about a week once we got the invite to play in the tournament.” Given the short notice, they were still able to finalize a team of nine players that came from different schools in the three islands of Hawaii.

Assistant coach J.R Olaso shared as well that more players should have made the roster for the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals. However, some had academic obligations. One of the players cannot make it due to an ACL injury while the other had a torn labrum. But despite having less players suiting up, they have dominated the opposition so far because of their versatility.

While watching their game against CDO National High School, Kalei Mau of the Cocolife Asset Managers shared, “In Hawaii, you have to learn to play multiple positions. If you are a setter who is in the front row, you can be a hitter” That level of flexibility has helped them cover all bases while limiting opponents to only 19 points per set.

Players we’re keeping an eye on

Kawamura was wary of the girls starting slow for they haven’t played much together. But it seems like their aggressive play turns them into a well-oiled machine. 

Every player in the Hawaii Under 18 team knows their role. Obviously, Chevelle Wagner-Chun is the team’s defensive anchor as the sole libero but Gennezia Hawkins is an excellent floor defender too. Their defensive wall is fortified by middle blockers Aniya Hawthorne and Siela Avea.

As for offense, most of the points come from outside attackers Naniloa Spaar and Madisyn Beirne as well as opposite attacker Ella Connor. Spaar has made 36 points in three games including a 17-point, two-ace outing against Holy Family. She followed it up with eight attacks against CDO National High. She registered seven spikes and four aces against USJ-R.

Connor has contributed 18 spike points, five aces, and a block in their wins while Beirne currently has 23 attacks, four aces, and a block. These numbers become more impressive given that they’ve done in it just seven total sets. Keaupunilani Kamakeeaina was also a revelation in their game against USJ-R with seven attack points, four aces, and a block.

Performances like these might have caught the attention of US NCAA school that have tried to recruit them. However, Kawamura shared that this is a young team composed of five juniors, three sophomores, and an eight grader. There is much room for improvement for these young ladies and their coaching staff believes that the Rebisco Volleyball League is a positive step towards that.

Playing with the best

As for their reason for joining, Kawamura said, “Rebisco is a top quality brand and it is sponsoring a well-established tournament with high level of play.” Given that nine regional champions and two other guest teams are competing in this grassroots volleyball competition, the field in this National Finals is as prestigious as it can get.

While it’s been all good for Team Hawaii so far, they will be in for tough opposition in their three remaining games in Pool A. They will be going up against Central Visayas champions University of San Jose Recoletos on November 20, Central Mindanao champions University of Mindanao Tagum College on the 21st and NCR champions Kings Montessori School in the 22nd.

Regardless of the result, the Hawaii Under 18 is getting a lot of experience playing in the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals. Experience that will only help them grow to become better volleyball players. As the sun rises on the Sunshine State, so too will the level of volleyball talent.