The Hawaii Under 18 team defeated all but one competitor during the Rebisco Volleyball League National Finals. They fell short to Kings Montessori School twice despite having talented individuals such as Nive Tuileta, Naniloa Spaar, Madisyn Beirne, and Keaupunilani Kamakeeaina. However, their first runner-up finish is already impressive considering that they did not have much time to practice together before the tournament.
In an interview during the thanksgiving dinner for the RVL Nationals 2018, Team Hawaii head coach Larry Tuileta revealed, “We came together three weeks before the tournament and we have a couple of practices before leaving for the Philippines.” This is the reason why they take advantage of the scheduled practice sessions for them at the Ynares Sports Arena daily.
But while the practices helped them play as one, it also helped them enhance their knowledge of the sport. “During practice sessions, we share the court with another team and try to learn how they do it,” Tuileta mentioned. When asked about the best trait of Philippine volleyball that they will try to blend into their own style, he said “We will definitely bring the intensity and tenacity of how Filipinos play the game. The way the players shift in the court and the way they pass the ball is something that we have learned and will improve on.”
That style will help these young ladies bolster their volleyball skills in hopes of landing a US NCAA Division 1 scholarship. But Tuileta said that the experience of playing internationally is a good mark on the resume of Team Hawaii Under 18’s players once colleges try to recruit them.
The future for Team Hawaii
With the squad being formed specifically for the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals, Tuileta revealed that there are no immediate plans yet of letting the team participate in tournaments within Hawaii or the US mainland. “Right now, we’ll have to go back to our home region and assess our next measures from there,” he said.
But it is a positive sign though that they are already considering their participation in next year’s RVL. “The players that we have this year will have the right of first refusal for next year. If they wish to come back and play again, then that’s good. If they don’t, we’ll find other players to fill the roster,” Tuileta expressed.
Since there are no seniors in the squad, most of the Team Hawaii Under 18 players will go back to their respective junior or senior high schools. However, two of them have already committed to US NCAA Division 1 even before they graduate. “Ella Connor is already committed to Cal State Poly while Nani Spaar is going to Temple University,” Tuileta revealed.
It is possible that all nine players of the Hawaii Under 18 team will end up playing high-level collegiate volleyball. When that happens, they will have to credit the competition they faced and the lessons they learned at the Rebisco Volleyball League. But seeing how close they are to winning it all, they are raring to be back next year. With months of training and better appreciation of Philippine volleyball, let the opposition be warned that they will be more ready next time.