HHSAA BOYS VOLLEYBALL
Maryknoll's Spartan squad keeps going
DIVISION II BOYS SEMIFINAL
Even a patchwork lineup couldn't slow down the Maryknoll Spartans.
Despite playing with a new-look team because three players were ineligible for the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball Championships, Maryknoll downed Hilo 25-19, 25-20 in a semifinal match at Kamehameha last night.
Maryknoll coach Shawn Doo was forced to shake things up because the players went to a smaller school and couldn't represent Maryknoll in the tournament. He had to go to new players to get things done -- and get things done they did.
The Spartans (15-7), the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champions, found an explosive combination in hitter Simeon Ke-Paloma (15 kills) and Shelby Nakakura (11 kills) that left the Vikings scrambling to counter.
Both Spartans were support players until the tournament.
Like clockwork, when Ke-Paloma rotated to the back row, Maryknoll turned to Nakakura for points. As soon as the junior went to the back, Ke-Paloma turned it on again.
"I think it's a good combination," Ke-Paloma said. "When I'm in the back, he's in the front; when he's in the back, I'm in the front. We get our kills, we get our points. I think it's working really good. As long as we keep on doing what we're doing, then we should be fine."
Doo credited senior Bryce Wong for his play as the team's new setter. Wong hadn't even played that position until about three weeks ago.
The Vikings (14-6) jumped out to leads of 9-4 in Game 1 and 10-6 in Game 2, but couldn't maintain either. Once the Spartan duo warmed up, Hilo couldn't get enough stops.
But just getting to the state tournament was a big accomplishment, Viking coach Budgie Baker said. After a 3-5 start to the season, they rattled off enough wins to qualify and advance through the Big Island Interscholastic Federation tournament before taking the BIIF crown.
Senior hitter Emrick Salas led the Vikings with five kills.
"I kind of admire the way we came back from (the season-opening struggles)," Baker said. "We kind of worked our way up. Our goal was to make it to the Stan Sheriff (today). We are. Win, lose, draw, it's still a good experience for them. You couldn't ask for anything more from them."
Doo can hardly believe the position his team is in, playing Hana at 6 tonight for the D-II championship. He couldn't remember the last time the Spartans even qualified for the boys state tournament.
"(The players) are raw. It would just be a dream come true," Doo said. "That's every kid's goal is to win that state championship, so the fact that we're there is just a blessing already."