PAHOA — The name of Sheri Kaehuaea-Credo’s landscaping company No Pressure would make for a good motto for her Pahoa boys volleyball team.
After all, whatever the Daggers accomplish in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation season would be pretty much extra gravy because they’re a rebuilding team.
Last season, they had everything: a lineup of six seniors starters, built on experience, talent and versatility. Pahoa won BIIF Division II title and finished runner-up at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament.
The only returning seniors are Virgil Stinnett, Travis Carvalho and Theral James Tadeo, and each saw limited playing time. The rest of the new Daggers are inexperienced.
Konawaena beat Pahoa 20-25, 25-21, 18-25, 28-2, 15-9 in a BIIF Division II match Saturday at the Daggers Gym.
Despite the loss, the defending BIIF champion Daggers (2-5) still have a shot at reaching the four-team playoffs. For one thing, they’ve already played and fallen to Kamehameha, Hilo, Waiakea and Hawaii Prep.
“We’re a rebuilding team, even though we have a lot of seniors (six in all),” Kaehuaea-Credo said. “Our returning players are go-to players and we’re counting on them to step up. But they’re all quick learners, and they’ve really tried to mesh well with each other.”
Stinnett , Carvalho and Christian Bartolome, another senior, start at outside hitter. Torrell Thomas, a junior on loan from the basketball team, and senior John Kapumau anchor the middle. Kaelan Padilla, a sophomore setter, and Tadeo, a libero, round out the lineup.
“The team’s goal is they want to go to states,” Kaehuaea-Credo said. “They know they’re a new team and need to work together. They’re coming along.”
The first-year coach points to Carvalho as an emotional sparkplug. He’s the one giving his fellow Daggers a pep talk during timeouts. When the offense needs a charge, the ball is usually sent in Stinnett’s direction.
“Travis really has heart and determination,” Kaehuaea-Credo said. “He brings a fire to the whole team. Virgil is an all-around player. He’s stepped up this year and volleyball has inspired him. He knows he has a main role, and we really need him.”
Thomas provides the Daggers with a nice 6-foot presence at the net. He also brings along his athleticism, moving with swiftness to close blocks and drilling hard shots when he gets a clean swing. But Kaehuaea-Credo also appreciates his demeanor.
“Torrell is happy-go-lucky,” she said. “He has so much energy and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.”
Kaehuaea-Credo lives in Hilo and makes a long drive to practice in Pahoa. At least, she has company when her assistant coach Kahea Rodrigues carpools with her. The UH-Hilo senior has one season of eligibility left.
“Kahea is my backbone. I’m more the quiet type and tell her what to run,” Kaehuaea-Credo said. “The knowledge she learns at UHH she tries to bring here. There’s a lot of teamwork even with the coaches. Isaac Ekau and Jarrett Kamaka (2013 Pahoa graduates) are volunteer coaches. They help out and give back to the team.”
The Daggers had a golden chance to close out the Wildcats, holding serve at 24-22 in Game 4. But Kona rallied and eventually won. Still, that doesn’t overshadow the season’s highlight — a five-set victory at Ka‘u.
“We came back from 0-2. The crowd was loud and the boys got in a shell,” Kaehuaea-Credo said. “But they fought for what they wanted. Travis did an amazing job talking to team, and we fought to the end.
“People ask me, why I drive all the way from Hilo? But it’s good to see the kids learn and accept what we’re teaching them and be thankful for what they’ve got.”
There’s no better example than Rodrigues, a 2002 Roosevelt graduate on Oahu. She took a timeout from the game, and came back last year at UHH. Her advice to her young Daggers is basically her life’s credo.
“I teach them what I know. Basically, go for every ball because you don’t know if you don’t try,” she said. “Give a max effort and have that drive every day.”