First year was
a learning experience
Next year, the Anuenue volleyball team won't be so new.
The Hawaiian immersion school just finished a successful girls season, its first in Oahu Interscholastic Association varsity competition.
It's hard to call 0-11 prosperous, but in this case, wins and losses don't mean a thing.
"We progressed every game," Anuenue coach Clinton Schultz said. "Our goal wasn't necessarily to win, but to expose girls to the game, and they learned little by little."
Most of the seven players on the team knew little about the finer points of volleyball before the season, but started to put it together by the end of the season.
The most special moment for the newest OIA team was a non-volleyball occasion.
"Before our last game, the Moanalua players showed their aloha for us," Schultz said. "They gave us leis, trinkets and candies, and that's when our girls realized that it's not only a sport. It's a way to meet friends and get to know other people."
Freshman defensive specialist Kahaulahilahi Vegas made some of the biggest strides on the team.
"She went from being afraid of the ball, to moving the ball, passing and setting it," the coach said. "She really overcame a lot of inner fears to play the game."
Schultz also said senior Hiilani Soma developed into a solid defensive middle blocker as the season went along.
Nanikeahu Keama, a senior outside hitter, delivered her brand of team leadership. She was one of the few players who had prior youth volleyball experience.
"She really brought some stability to the team," Schultz said.
Next year should be a bit easier for Anuenue.
The school had three intermediate teams this season and Schultz anticipates having enough players for varsity and junior varsity teams.
"It was a real challenge this year, that's for sure," he said. "We're looking forward to next year and to keep it going and going in years to come."
Schultz is a former Interscholastic League of Honolulu coach at the intermediate, JV and varsity levels for various teams.
Black as Knights: It was a long fall for coach Nelson Maeda and the Castle football team.
A year ago, the Knights had a mediocre regular season followed by stunning victories that led them all the way to a second-place finish in the state.
Things happened in reverse this year.
For most of the season, Castle proved it belonged as one of the state's top teams, but fell apart in recent weeks and landed outside of the playoffs.
"We were faced with adversity all year long," Maeda said. "We've had some very difficult situations."
The Knights (4-4, 3-4) were without many starters for their first game of the OIA season --a loss to Mililani --due to their involvement in a brawl at the end of last year's state championship game loss to Saint Louis.
Then, after a string of wins, the team learned that it used an ineligible player and forfeited what was a hard-earned victory on the field over Kailua.
Faced with a must-win situation against McKinley last week, Castle just didn't have the same oomph it had during its memorable 2002 postseason run.
Red Raiders, Warriors up: Kahuku (8-0, 7-0 OIA) and Kamehameha (7-0, 5-0 ILH) climbed higher in the Tony Poll national rankings this week.
The Red Raiders moved up to No. 16 from No. 22, while the Warriors rose from No. 25 to No. 22.
Both teams remained in the same place in the West Region -- Kahuku at No. 4 and Kamehameha at No. 6.
Spartans live on ESPN2: De La Salle (6-0) of Concord, Calif., takes on Evangel Christian Academy (4-2) of Shreveport, La., in football on Friday.
The Spartans-Eagles game at Diablo Valley College is 2 p.m., Hawaii time, and can be seen live on ESPN2.
De La Salle, the nation's top-ranked team, is on a 144-game winning streak.
The Spartans visited Aloha Stadium a year ago and beat eventual state champion Saint Louis 31-21.
Maurice Drew, De La Salle's standout running back last season, is carrying the ball for UCLA this fall.
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