Seabury Hall reaches D-II title match

Blake Rizzo and Nyck Yashiro have been here before, but not for two years.

The pair of Seabury Hall seniors led the boys volleyball team to its fourth state final in the last five years with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 win over Kau in the semifinals of the New City Nissan Division II State Championships at McKinley Gym on Friday.

“We just took advantage of what we had as far as teamwork,” said Rizzo, who had 17 kills and five blocks. “We just brought a lot of energy right from the start and it really paid off in the end.”

The second-seeded Spartans (11-5) will play three-time defending state champion Hawaii Baptist for the title today at 5 p.m. at the Neal Blaisdell Arena. The Eagles, who have won five of the last six state crowns, beat Honokaa 25-20, 25-21, 25-12.

Seabury Hall won the only boys state volleyball title in Maui Interscholastic League history, in 2010. The Spartans’ only miss of the finale in the last five seasons came after a semifinal loss to Pahoa last year.

“It’s a blessing,” Rizzo said. “It just brings back a lot of memories for me and I’m just really fortunate that I get to be there again.”

Yashiro dished out 41 assists. The other senior on the roster is libero Kyle Stisher.

“Tonight was huge, it was good to get the win, especially for the younger teammates,” Yashiro said.

Yashiro remembers the 2010 state title team.

“It would be amazing,” said Yashiro, who will walk on at California Baptist University in the fall. “They were a great team and we still talk to a few of them and it would just be great to join their legacy.”

Rizzo said the loss in last season’s semifinals was a driving force the team this season.

“There’s only a few of us who are actually returning to it, we have a lot of new guys,” Rizzo said. “I think for us returning players it was a little bit of incentive, especially for us seniors who made it to the final round for our final year.”

Makena Jost had 13 kills and two blocks, while Ian Roth added eight kills for the Spartans.

Kau was led by Cameron Enriques’ 19 kills, Brian Gascon had 25 assists and five kills.

Seabury Hall coach Caleb Palmer said it was a team effort against Kau. The five MIL losses were the Spartans’ worst season in league play since the finals streak began.

“It feels great for the guys to have the opportunity,” Palmer said. “They have worked hard, we just couldn’t put it together during the year. We were fortunate to earn a trip here. We played well last night and pretty well tonight, but nowhere near as well as we can play. Tomorrow night will take all we have.”