Chargers hopeBy Catherine Toth
to end ILH
Special to the Star-Bulletin
Talk about represent.
Pearl City plans on challenging the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's dominance at the Nissan Hawaii High School Athletic Association Boys' Volleyball Tournament this weekend.
In 29 state tournaments, the Oahu Interscholastic Association captured just five titles (Farrington from 1970-71, Roosevelt from 1977-79). The second-seeded Chargers, 12-0, look to upstage top-seeded Kamehameha and four-time defending state champion Punahou.
"If we all play together, we have a chance," said 6-0 junior Bryson Martin, who earned OIA West All-Star second-team honors last year. "It'll be hard, but we have a good chance of at least playing the top teams."
That includes Punahou. The Buffanblu have won an unprecedented 21 state titles, including 16 of the last 18. Although they lost to Kamehameha in the ILH championships, Punahou is still a threat in the state tournament.
"I don't mean this in a bad way, but they're bred to play," Pearl City head coach Reid Shigemasa said. "They've got big guys and the school has a lot of programs to get them started early. And they've got great coaching."
Although the Chargers defeated the Buffanblu in a preseason tournament, Shigemasa is hesitant to draw much from that.
"We beat them, but that's misleading," he said. "We're talking about a team that had only been playing together for a few weeks.
"They're playing so well now, we just hope to catch them off-guard, play our best and hope they don't play at all."
Chargers' leading blocker senior Raymond Bode isn't writing off Punahou either.
"I think they're going to be very hard because they have big blocks," said the 5-10 middle blocker. "But that's different because that was only preseason. Teams get better as the season goes on. We got better, too, so I don't know what's going to happen if we play them."
The key for Pearl City will be in its setting. Martin, who owned sole possession of the position last year, has been sharing setting duties with 5-5 senior Ben Yamashiro this season.
This is Yamashiro's first year at setter, having been the Chargers' reliable defensive specialist. But Shigemasa feels his leadership will be vital to keeping the team focused in the tournament.
"He's more of a quiet leader," Shigemasa said. "He just does his job and the team needs that."
Yamashiro says he's up to the challenge.
"I have to really pick up the leadership and hopefully we'll do well," he said. "It's hard -- I'll have to become an attacker as well -- but coach taught me well."
Because he's been there, too. Shigemasa, an '88 graduate of Pearl City, competed in the state tournament as an opposite hitter. Since taking over as head coach four years ago, he has led his team to the state tourney every year.
"I keep on reminding them to play every game like it's the OIA championships," he said. "No one's here because they were lucky. They're here because they beat a lot of good teams."
What: State high school tournament
Nissan HHSAA Boys
Where: Kekuhaupio Gym (Kamehameha) and McKinley Gym.
Tomorrow: Continuous pool-play action starts at 1 p.m. at each site. Final games at 7:30 p.m.