HONOLULU — Seabury Hall was taller, far more balanced and loaded with firepower, but that didn’t matter much to versatile Ka‘u outside hitter Cameron Enriques, who kept swinging away and starred in his own highlight show.
The 5-foot-8 junior Trojan pounded a match-high 18 kills, but the Spartans swept, 25-23, 25-22, 25-16, in the semifinals of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II volleyball tournament Friday at Farrington High’s gym.
Seabury Hall, the eight-time Maui Interscholastic League champion, advances to the state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Blaisdell Arena.
Ka’u (8-7), the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, plays for third place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Blaisdell Arena.
The Trojans couldn’t stop but at least contained Blake Rizzo, who had 17 kills and seven blocks in a first-round sweep against Hanalani.
The 6-foot-5 senior middle drilled 15 kills while 6-1 junior middle Makena Jost added 10 kills, with each often taking attacking attempts from the left, right and middle. Justin Ringsby, a 5-11 outside hitter, and Ian Roth, a 5-10 hitter, each added four kills.
It was a stark contrast in size with no Trojan taller than 5-10 senior middle blocker Larry-Dan Al-Navarro compared to the much bigger Spartans, who played very clean ball with just 23 unforced errors (hitting, serving, ball-handling). Ka‘u had a whopping 42 giveaway points, 14 in each game, and continually climbed out of a hole.
Enriques pointed to a bigger problem, despite the Spartans winning the roofing department with five blocks to the Trojans’ one stuff.
“We struggled with our focus,” he said. “I tried to visualize the game in my head, give myself mental reps. Their size didn’t really matter. It depends on what your team offers.”
Al-Navarro added five kills while Chance Emmsley-Ah Yee had four and Brian Gascon and Anthony Emmsley-Ah Yee finished with three each. Gascon got his kills after switching from setter to opposite in the last set.
In Game 1, Rizzo ripped six of his team’s 11 kills in a part-time role. He’s glued to the bench when he rotates to the back row. He has a heat missile of a jump serve, but it produced no aces because of the Trojans’ solid serve-receive passing.
Enriques, seven inches shorter, cranked seven kills and displayed his versatile game, from hitting a nifty back-row roll shot to his passing. Also in Game 2, he flashed a descending shot, hitting the ball while everyone is going down on the block, for a kill.
Enriques smoked a pair of tool shots off the big Seabury Hall block for a 23-23 tie. Rizzo answered and then Ringsby crushed an overpass to close the first set.
It was pretty much the same in Game 2.
The Trojans trailed 23-22 after Enriques hammered his sixth kill of the set, but the Spartans scored back-to-back points on a Roth kill and a bad set for the 14th unforced error.
The third set was a case of warts for the Trojans, who had four unforced errors in surrendering the last five points, ending the semifinal on three straight hitting errors.
Since statewide classification started in 2005, the BIIF has never won the Division II state championship. Although the league came close last season when a senior-laden Pahoa team fell to Hawaii Baptist in three sets.
While Rizzo only exhibited the ability to hit hard, Enriques lit up the Richard Kitamura fieldhouse gym with his all-around game. Still, despite causing the Spartans all sorts of grief, he found little comfort.
“I thought I did all right,” he said. “I could have done better. The best part for me is having fun, and playing the game that I love.”