Spartans take league crown
OLINDA – The Hana High School boys volleyball team’s season is over.
The memory of Isaiah Pu-Akima will live on for the Dragons and their supporters.
Blake Rizzo had 20 kills and Nyck Yashiro contributed 54 assists as Seabury Hall defeated Hana 25-17, 25-17, 21-25, 25-18 in the Maui Interscholastic League Division II overall championship match Saturday at Erdman Athletic Center.
The Spartans (9-5) will represent the league in this week’s state tournament on Oahu. Seabury Hall, which will be making its ninth consecutive state tournament appearance, is the No. 2 seed and will open against Hanalani on Thursday at the McKinley gym.
“I’m excited that we get to take our seniors who have worked hard and performed well,” said Spartans coach Caleb Palmer. “It’s been an up-and-down year for us personally. It’s about coming together and finding a way to win. At times, it’s very much not pretty.”
The loss brought an end to an emotional season for the Dragons (12-2). Pu-Akima, a senior outside hitter, was killed in a vehicle accident in Keanae on April 24.
“He was a big part of the team. Going to states was something we always wanted to do since our freshman year,” said Hana senior Hunter Perry. “But that chance is gone now.”
The death of Pu-Akima brought the people of Hana closer together.
“We had a lot of support from our community helping us out in our loss,” said sophomore Chasen Kanakaole.
Said Palmer: “I can’t even fathom something like that. It’s extremely sad.”
Seabury had also dealt Hana, the regular-season champion, its first loss of the season in Friday’s MIL tournament final.
“It was a long season,” said Dragons coach Manuel Oliveira. “To be undefeated that long, it’s nothing when it comes to the end and you lose. We just couldn’t get it down. Seabury is a good team. They deserve to go to states.”
The Dragons beat the Spartans in both of their regular-season meetings.
“Hana is a really good team,” Yashiro said. “They have great defense, they just keep the ball up and keep it alive. Even though we lost to them the last two, we knew we could do this if we worked as a team and played our best. And that’s what we did.”
On Saturday, Seabury Hall went on a 7-2 run to close the first set, a 6-0 surge to finish the second and a 9-0 rally to end the fourth. Mohalu Aikala, one of seven freshmen on the Spartans’ roster, served the final eight points.
“I’m really happy I get to go back,” Rizzo said of the state tournament. “It’s a great way to end my senior year. I’m really proud of the new players on the team. They really pulled together at the end of the MIL season and it will be great for them to experience the state tournament.”
Rizzo, who took 31 swings, also had six blocks. Ian Roth finished with 10 kills and Makena Jost and Justin Rigsby each added eight. Kyle Stisher had 12 digs.
“We’ve been going through a lot of lineups this year and I think we found a pretty decent one with what we have right now,” Yashiro said.
Perry finished with 13 kills and 10 assists, Noah Hoopai-Feliciano had 11 kills and Jordan Redo-Rost finished with 23 assists and eight kills.
“I’m very proud. I like the way they fought back at the end today. We almost did it,” Oliveira said.
* Kyle Sakamoto is at email@example.com