4 from Punahou sign with D-I schools
FIVE MINUTES LATE doesn't raise an eyebrow at some places.
At Punahou, it's enough to get some good-natured ribbing from classmates, especially if the late dude is wearing a red Stanford baseball cap. When Spencer McLachlin walked through the conference room door of the athletic department at 7:05 a.m. yesterday, some of his volleyball friends and extended ohana were already there waiting.
McLachlin, Riley McKibbin, Elizabeth Ka'aihue and Larissa Nordyke signed their letters of intent to play volleyball at Division I universities.
McLachlin and McKibbin, the outside hitter and setter for No. 1-ranked Punahou, will likely take the court as competitors starting next year. McLachlin signed with Stanford, turning down offers from Pepperdine and USC.
McKibbin will do his setting for USC after considering Penn State and Stanford. The two have played together since they were toddlers. Chris and Beth McLachlin were McKibbin's babysitters some 17 years ago.
"It was hard to give up going to Stanford," said McKibbin, who accepted the best scholarship deal available. Scholarships in men's volleyball are rarely 100 percent.
"Penn State was too far away," said McKibbin, who was dressed in a Trojans shirt.
McLachlin will join former Iolani standout Kawika Shoji at Stanford. The 6-foot-6 two-sport athlete knew the Cardinal were his choice after visiting the school.
"It felt right," he said, noting that his family is close with coaches at the schools that made offers. "They're still friends of mine. It's not like we're gonna hate each other."
Parting will be such sweet sorrow, so to speak, for the lifelong friends.
"I've been setting him for 17 years," McKibbin said, only slightly exaggerating. "He writes me thank-you notes."
Hawaii didn't offer scholarships to either, knowing that they were intent on leaving the islands.
"I wanted to go away," McKibbin said. "They rarely recruit in-state for boys."
Nordyke has matured into one of the state's top players. The outside hitter will suit up for UC Irvine next season. She declined an offer from Santa Clara.
"I like the size of Irvine better. I like the location, too," she said, noting that the school is different from Punahou. "I want to try a new experience."
Ka'aihue, meanwhile, found what she needs right here at home.
"It's competitive, and they have the coaching and fan support," said Ka'aihue, who committed to UH as a junior. Her family will also be able to enjoy her collegiate career, she added.
Ka'aihue is at the top of her game. She pounded 21 kills as Punahou won its state-tournament quarterfinal match against Kamehameha-Hawaii the night before. The powerful, versatile outside hitter will be a setter and libero for Dave Shoji's Rainbow Wahine.
"Liz is the first libero we've recruited out of high school," Shoji said. "We wanted to get a scholarship player in that position, one we actually looked for. She is an outstanding volleyball player with natural instincts, is very aggressive, passes well and has all the attributes we want in a back-court player."
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-8 Ka'aihue was nearly unstoppable at the state tournament on Maui and carried her team to the title.
The Rainbow Wahine's only other letter came from Amanda Simmons of Elk Grove (Ill.) High. The 6-3 Simmons is a middle blocker who touches 10 feet with a standing touch of 7-8 and a blocking touch of 9-3.
"I compare Amanda to a Nickie Thomas (sophomore middle out with a knee injury), an unknown as far as the national picture is concerned," Shoji said. "I don't see any reason why she won't be a great player for us in the future."
Simmons was the only athlete to sign yesterday at her high school, but she said all of her Club Fusion teammates had committed to Division I schools.
"I'm really anxious and excited about coming, and it's only November," said Simmons, who attended the Wahine camp in August and made her official recruiting trip earlier this fall.
Mira Costa's Alix Klineman, who made a recruiting visit to Hawaii earlier this year, did not sign yesterday. The 6-5 Klineman, considered the top recruit in the country, had narrowed her choices to Hawaii, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Washington.