Although his all-around skills on the volleyball court often overshadow others, Evan Enriques has always shined a spotlight on the team concept.
The 6-foot-2 Kamehameha outside hitter capped his senior season in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation with another round of accolades.
He was named the BIIF Division I Player of the Year, by the league’s coaches, for the third consecutive year. He was on the first team as a freshman.
Enriques is joined on the first team by junior libero Kekaulike Alameda. Waiakea senior outside hitters Mamane Namahoe, Kama Paio and Dillon Rellez and senior middle blocker Bronson Napoleon, and Hilo junior setter Maikah Tandal.
Enriques was recently named the All-State player of the year for the second time. He also received the honor when he was a sophomore.
Both times, this past season and 2012, the Warriors finished second to Punahou at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament. But twice, he was voted the state’s best player.
“I’m especially thankful to be the player of the year. But the thing that comes to mind is I’m proud of our team in general,” he said. “It’s a team sport and it’s a team effort, despite what people may think. I like to see anything I do as a reflection of the team. That’s for BIIFs and state.”
No one in league history has the same collection of honor distinctions as Enriques, who was on the USA 18-and-under team that competed in the World Cup in Mexico last summer.
He’s got an 80 percent financial aid package to play libero at Stanford. He graduated with a 4.04 grade-point average and was a two-time National Honor Society member.
Enriques has made his mark for his savvy, tireless and productive hitting.
In the state semifinals, he pounded 40 kills on 104 swings in Kamehameha’s five-set victory against Moanalua. In the championship against Punahou, he had 27 kills on 77 attacks.
As a sophomore in the state championship against Punahou, Enriques blistered the Buffanblu’s block with 42 kills on 114 attempts in the five-set loss.
Stanford, the NCAA national runner-up, wants him for his skill-set as a passer. Enriques carries that same passing mentality — shining a light on others — off the floor as well.
In fact, the team concept is something of a lifetime bond with Pono Maa’s Ka Ulukoa club team on Oahu. Since he was 12 years old, after his season finished at Kamehameha, Enriques has hopped on a plane to stay at his coach’s house, and train in Honolulu.
However, as the old proverb goes, all good things must come to an end.
It’s the last time Enriques will play with Ka Ulukoa teammates Micah Maa, a Punahou senior-to-be, and Larry Tuileta, a recent graduate, who’ll walk on to play football and volleyball at USC.
“It’s our last run as a team in the 18s division at the USA Junior Nationals,” Enriques said about the tourney that starts June 30 in Houston.
Tuileta (16 kills, 22 digs) and Maa (20 kills, 25 digs) combined to form a powerful offensive-and-defensive, one-two punch to neutralize Enriques’ production in the state championship.
But at least a loss to a pair of volleyball brothers stings a little less. What bothered Enriques far more was not being able to split the state player of the year honor into three pieces.
“I’m disappointed that it came down to one player,” he said. “In all honesty, it could have been a couple of other players, Micah and Tui. I’m thankful just the same. But we’re a tight bunch of players.
“I’ve been playing with them since I was 12 years old. We’ve made it to the junior nationals and won six titles. Playing with them has helped me so much. It’s always competitive between us, but mainly it’s Micah and me. Off the court, Micah and I are always competing against each other, whether it’s beach volleyball or something else. It definitely sets a bar for the three of us.”
And it’s not the last time Enriques and Tuileta will face off on the volleyball court. Stanford and USC are in the Mountain Sports Pacific Federation, the same conference as the University of Hawaii.