HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Volleyball teams converge on Oahu for 4 state championship tournaments
The birth of Division II state championships in volleyball was amazing enough.
The fact that the D-II fields for boys and girls are 12 teams each makes this week's Hawaii High School Athletic Association/New City Nissan State Championships a true carnival for all volleyball fanatics.
Back in July, when the HHSAA executive board decided to expand the state championships, the prospect of a crowded schedule seemed inevitable. Fast-forward to tomorrow, and 48 teams will play in four tournaments at four sites.
In the girls Division I tourney, Kamehameha drew the No. 1 seed after defeating Iolani twice last week for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu crown. That tourney will begin tomorrow, 3:30 p.m., at Kekuhaupio Gym on the campus of Kamehameha Schools.
The girls D-II tourney begins at the same time in Radford's James Alegre Gym. ILH D-II champion St. Francis, ranked No. 8 in last week's Star-Bulletin Top 10, is the top seed.
The boys are also at separate sites. The D-I tourney begins tomorrow, 3:30 p.m., at McKinley's Student Council Gym. ILH champion Punahou (15-0) is the top seed.
The boys D-II tourney starts at the same time at Punahou's Hemmeter Fieldhouse. ILH D-II winner Hawaii Baptist drew the top seed.
The Division I finals will be played at Stan Sheriff Center. If all the hubbub and locations seem overwhelming, it's only because the heavy schedule is unprecedented. There have been years when the boys and girls tournaments were held on different weeks.
Still, opening the doors for the state's smaller, but highly competitive schools is a gift, St. Joseph coach Rachelle Hanohano said.
"It's good because the intent of what they did was excellent. There's a lot of small schools that didn't have the opportunity to go. A small school like Laupahoehoe, which has 67 kids, that's what Division II is supposed to be about," said Hanohano, who guided the Cardinals to the state title match three years ago.
St. Joseph plays in a gym that fits 150 spectators.
"This group that I have is very young, not the kind that play year-round, all of them," she said. "We had to work hard to get there. I just thank God that we made it with the third seed."
If the state tourney is anything like the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, teams like St. Joseph have a puncher's chance.
"Division II is about who will show up. In the BIIF, everyone is equal, so it's about who shows up. We've beaten Honokaa, they've beaten us, and we've taken Konawaena to three games," she noted.