By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Hi‘ilei Ishi-Chaves figured she’d spend her freshman season at a perennial power like Waiakea on the junior varsity. With the Warriors going through a bit of transition, however, those plans quickly changed.
Ishi-Chaves watched most of the third set of Friday night’s varsity match against Honokaa on the bench, all right — but she’d already contributed six kills as the young Warriors swept the Dragons 25-10, 25-14, 25-17 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball match at their gym.
“I actually tried out for JV, because I didn’t think I could make varsity at first,” said Ishi-Chavez, a setter. “But in the first 10 minutes I got moved up.”
The Warriors (1-1) have more freshmen (four) than seniors (three) on their roster. First-year player Kadara Marshall added four kills at middle blocker, and another freshman, outside hitter Sage Rosas, also was included in the starting lineup.
Sophomore Monica Muskat posted five kills for a Honokaa (1-1) team that struggled all match at both ends of the service game.
“It was bad; a lot of tension with the girls tonight,” coach Alvin Chong said. “You could see it on their face. They weren’t ready for the ball.
“(Our) service was killing me, too.”
Waiakea, which was swept by Ka‘u to open the season, is trying to replace three seniors who earned all-BIIF accolades and two more who received honorable mention.
Coach Jason Suwa conceded it could be a rare rebuilding year for the Warriors.
“I guess it’s possible because we lost a lot of seniors,” he said. “We don’t have a go-to player, so it’s more about spreading it out. Just mixing the lineup trying to get everyone to play.
“We’re still trying to find that one consistent (player), but they’re all working hard and getting better.”
At least Suwa’s got a bunch of club players at his disposal such as Ishi-Chaves, who has been playing with the Piopio Bears since she was 9.
Chong said Honokaa is at an immediate disadvantage when it comes to club play.
“That’s the thing on the northern side, no clubs whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve just got to go back home and regroup again and hopefully things go better the next time.”
Honokaa was missing a key piece in sophomore outside hitter/setter Ashlynn Kaiamakini, and in addition to Muskat, Chong’s also banking on improved play from junior setter/hitter Shereena Bird and junior middle blocker Hunter Liftee to help spur the Dragons, who endured a rebuilding season of their own last year in Division II.
Waiakea wasn’t totally driven by freshmen. Junior outside hitter Lianalyn Wilson added three kills and the Warriors twice went on long scoring runs powered by the serve of senior libero Tanalei Louis.
“She’s the energizer out there,” Suwa said of the reigning state judo champion at 129 pounds. “She’s the one that keeps everyone going; keeps everyone in check.”
The match was fast, but not quick enough for Chong to make it down the street in time to watch his daughter Autumn in action. The Kamehameha-Kapalama graduate is a freshman libero on the University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s team.
“I’ll be back down tomorrow night,” he said.
Waiakea swept the JV match.
In other varsity matches, Kohala beat Keaau 25-8, 25-15, 25-19 to even its record at 1-1; and Pahoa swept Christian Liberty 25-16, 25-12, 27-25 to improve to 1-1.
In JV, Kohala outlasted Keaau 29-27, 25-22 and HAAS def. Pahoa 25-15, 25-18.
St. Joseph 1-0
Hawaii Prep 0-1
Makua Lani 0-1
Makua Lani at Laupahoehoe, 10 a.m.
Kamehameha at Konawaena, after 10 a.m. JV
Ka‘u at Kealakehe, after 10 a.m. JV
Kanu JV vs. Ka’u JV, 10 a.m.