HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Maryknoll boys volleyball team erupted with joy after beating Hana yesterday in the Division II state final.
Spartans ‘Doo’ it without 3 starters
Nakakura and Wong lead Maryknoll to the Division II state title
What was once the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Boys State Volleyball Championship steadily evolved into the Nakakura and Wong Show.
Consolation championship: Honokaa def. Konawaena 26-24, 25-23
Fifth place: Mid-Pacific def. Aiea 25-18, 25-21
Third place: Waianae def. Hilo 25-23, 25-19
Championship: Maryknoll def. Hana 25-22, 25-22
Shelby Nakakura, the tournament's most outstanding player, went up for attacks a total of 41 times and scored kills on 16 of them, throwing Maryknoll on his back on deft passes from setter Bryce Wong. The duo was the main reason their team downed Hana 25-22, 25-22 at the Stan Sheriff Center last night.
A leadership role is something Nakakura had to get used to in a hurry after three Spartan starters sat out the playoffs because they attend smaller Interscholastic League of Honolulu schools and combination teams aren't allowed to play at states.
But perhaps the "biggest adjustment award" went to Wong, who only seriously started playing the position about three weeks ago after being converted from defensive specialist.
He came through with the biggest game of his career, putting up 30 assists while feeding Nakakura and keeping his other teammates involved.
And they made sure to give him credit for it.
"If I gotta give the most outstanding award ... we gotta go to the guy who delivers the ball for the team," said Maryknoll coach Shawn Doo.
"He was a (defensive specialist) and he comes in and does the job. Hands down to Bryce," said middle Richard Herring, who finished with seven kills, including a match-winning blast down the center. "I think he should get the MVP."
Nakakura took four balls from Wong for kills during an important 6-3 run early in Game 1 that set the Dragons back on their heels. The two teams battled to a stalemate, then a series of errors by Hana turned a 19-all tie into a 24-21 Spartan advantage. Two points later, Nakakura rejected the Dragons on a solo block to take the game.
"I had a lot of pressure, but everyone helped me get through it," said Wong with an ear-to-ear grin. "(The team) helped me through the whole thing and I'm really thankful for that."
Game 2 was more of the same, with Nakakura knocking down three consecutive kills for Maryknoll's sixth, seventh and eighth points, and adding another for good measure for a comfortable 10-3 lead.
The Dragons had other ideas, although their comeback bid sputtered just short. They went undefeated until the title match, and finished a tidy 11-1 as the No. 2 seed from the Maui Interscholastic League.
Down 20-12, Hana coach Manuel Oliveira called a timeout and told his team, "You guys gotta start fighting back now."
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shelby Nakakura of Maryknoll had 16 kills last night and was named the Division II tourney's Most Outstanding Player.
The Dragons went on a 10-4 run at that point to pull within 24-22. They fought off three Spartan match points and didn't hang their heads when Herring elevated for his smash down the middle.
Holden Gorbea (.333 hitting percentage) and Harold Kaiwi (four kills) earned all-tournament-team honors for the Dragons, and Herring, Wong, and libero Tyler Terai were named to the all-tournament team for Maryknoll.
Kaulana Kalauli Rowe of Hilo and Jesse Lafua of Waianae rounded out the squad.
Nakakura made sure his performance would be the most memorable.
"Our passing was on, our setting was good, all of us just hit the ball down and got everything we need," he said. "I think (Bryce) was really good tonight, really good throughout this whole tournament. It was just ... awesome. Maybe (he found a calling)."
After the win, Herring also spoke up for Wong's newfound ability. But Doo was proudest of his team's ability to learn on the fly and become postseason veterans in the middle of matches.
"Getting all that anxiety out, all that pressure (was the best)," Doo said. "Settling down and playing volleyball."
Hana, however, was plagued by nerves throughout the match. By the time the Dragons rallied in Game 2, the Spartans had the title in their sights.
"We made a good comeback," Oliveira said. "Our boys were just kinda like stage fright, I think. First time playing in a big place like this, we had the jitters, you know?"
Oliveira added that the experience of playing in the Stan Sheriff Center would translate to success in future years.
It was the first boys volleyball title at either the D-I or D-II levels for Maryknoll (16-7), the top overall tournament seed and Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion; the D-II state tournament debuted last year, with Kapaa taking home the championship.
Tri Borne, a team leader and one of the Spartan players who was forced to sit out, could only look on in awe as his teammates found talent and poise he didn't know they possessed.
Borne, who attends the Academy of the Pacific, explained he hadn't thought about the rule until it was too late to fix.
"I'm so surprised they were able to bring the team championship together," he said, shaking his head with a grin. "A couple other guys took over and we won it."