HONOLULU— Honokaa had difficulty neutralizing Isaac Liva and Caleb Fisher, the one-two scoring punch for clean-passing Hawaii Baptist, falling in three sets in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II volleyball semifinals.
The two outside hitters knocked down 14 kills each, often getting one-on-one swings from setter BJ Hosaka, who had 30 assists in a 25-20, 25-21, 25-12 victory at McKinley High School.
Honokaa (9-6) struggled with its passing, especially in serve-receive, allowing long scoring runs. Senior setter Makana Loo, who had 23 assists, couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm with his hitters, and CJ Carvalho led the Dragons with nine kills. Shyrome Batin added four kills.
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up will face BIIF champion Ka’u (8-7) for third place at 1:30 p.m. today at Blaisdell Arena.
The Dragons came out with high energy, but it all but evaporated by the third set, a technical clinic courtesy of the fundamentally sound Eagles (12-2), who stormed out to a 12-1 cushion. If HBA made a mistake, such as a hitting error wide or long, it was rarely repeated, a hallmark of efficient, consistent volleyball — the custom style of play in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
“Competing against the defending state champs like HBA, you have to give it your all and hope for the best,” Honokaa coach Shelton Kalilikane said. “To have that intensity all game long is hard, but I’m proud of how we played, even the third game. We came back from down 12-1 and made it 25-16. I thought we showed heart, determination and courage.
“They don’t have just one or two guys you can look for. You have to play honest volleyball against them. Their serving is tough, their block is tough. Their defense is just as good as their offense. They’re one of the best Division II volleyball teams I’ve seen in a while.”
Besides height (Liva and Fisher are 6-4) and a stocked roster of talent, the Eagles also have youth on their side. Liva and Fisher are just sophomores, as are 6-2 middle Brett Miller and 6-0 middle Sam Nishimiya. Hosaka is a junior.
But HBA coach Teoni Obrey doesn’t point to firepower or defense as a team strength. Instead, he picks a valuable intangible: teamwork.
“They play for each other, and through the years have adopted from the seniors the same mindset and approach to the game,” he said, then he turned technical. “When we serve aggressively and pass well, that gives us the best chance to be successful.”
The Eagles will vie for their fourth straight state title at 5 p.m. today against Seabury Hall.