Iolani defends top seed
So much for inactivity.
The No. 1-ranked Iolani Raiders made up for a quiet preseason by winning all six matches, including a 25-18, 25-16 victory over fourth-ranked Kamehameha-Hawaii yesterday in the final of the inaugural Hawaii Invitational at Iolani's gym.
Iolani had not played a full-fledged match since November 2006 until Thursday's opening round. Brad Lawson, regarded as perhaps the top college prospect in the nation, anchored the fired-up Raiders. Iolani fell short of the state tourney last year as Punahou and Kamehameha secured berths in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
"Oh yeah, we want it," the 6-foot-7 senior said. "Last year, we lost to Kamehameha and Coach Mike (Among) brought it up this year just for motivation."
Anything short of a state championship, he added, would be a disappointment.
"We have the right attitude and focus, on and off the court," said Lawson, who spent plenty of time playing on national teams in the offseason. He has orally committed to play at Stanford.
Setter Logan Nowack has weapons in his arsenal like 6-5 Taylor Donovan and high-flying Chris Llarenas. The Raiders' depth was a huge plus over the weekend.
"There's very little drop-off, if any, only because of inexperience. A lot of people say we're just Brad Lawson and a lot of other guys, but that's not true," Among said. "Guys are starting to believe that their touch on the ball matters, not just Brad's big hit."
Iolani led the Star-Bulletin Boys Volleyball Top 10 by just a point over defending champion Punahou. The Raiders probably solidified that ranking after sweeping through No. 10 Hawaii Baptist, Otay Ranch (Calif.) and Seabury Hall in Thursday's pool-play round.
The Raiders then swept McKinley 25-4, 25-9, and outlasted Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) 22-25, 26-24, 15-11 in the semifinals yesterday.
Kamehameha-Hawaii, 2-1 in pool play, swept Seabury Hall 25-20, 25-22 and HBA 26-24, 25-18 before the title match. The Warriors have three returning starters, but only one -- All-State pick Chandler Kaaa -- played in the offseason.
The other two, Colton Collins and Kealoha Kramer, are hoopsters who had not played volleyball in 16 months.
"If we need more offense, we put Chandler left. If we need more defense, we put him right," coach Guy Enriques said. "But we're young."
The switch of seasons from fall to spring meant KS-Hawaii lost middle blocker Kulani Soares to baseball. However, football and basketball standout Hogan Rosehill joined the slammers.
"He hasn't played since eighth grade, and he's unorthodox, but he's got great instincts," Enriques said.