Deep Luna volleyball team playing with confidence
LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School boys volleyball coach Tommy Akima is a man who radiates the positive nature and warmth of the West Side community.
He works as a campus security officer, heads up a Christian-based Polynesian entertainment troupe and extends his guidance effort in coaching the Luna volleyball team.
It is definitely a family affair for the Akima clan at the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium up on the Lahainaluna campus, as Coach Tommy’s wife, Noe, contributes as the team mom and sons Kapili, TJ, and George join Sean Gordon, Blaze Kalilikane, Clifford Ii Jr., Ikaika Vasquez, Jayson Manning and Nao Ah Puck to form the 2011 coaching staff.
So whether it’s singing a melody with his group, Mele Pono; greeting students, staff or visitors; or bellowing instructions from the sideline to the team, it is always a positive message that reaches out to those around Coach Tommy.
That ability to strike a harmonic chord with the student athletes in his charge has translated into success on the court for the Lunas, as they have climbed up the Maui Interscholastic League ladder to one championship and two second place finishes over the last three seasons.
That success will likely be continued, bolstered by the return of four-year players and tri-captains Micah Arcangel, Kaiea Rickard and Justin Natividad this season.
Junior three-year player Folau Tauese and sophomore returnee Jonah Reyes join that group to present a formidable starting lineup for the Lunas.
Senior TJ Rickard, the MIL’s co-player of the year in basketball this season, and freshman Kiko Fonohema add a distinctive punch to Coach Tommy’s team, with sophomores Erich Skrotzki. Semisi Filikitonga and Tytus Lucas, as well as freshman Noah Camara, forming a deep bench for the Lunas.
The team statistician is Kanoe Delatori. and the managers are Tricia Kama, Jade Chihara and Kalena Hoopii.
“These kids have a lot of dedication and love for the game,” said Coach Tommy last week, as he prepared the team for an exhibition match against an alumni team.
“It’s been a challenge to get the team to gel as quickly as we would like with the basketball boys (the Rickard cousins, Tauese and Arcangel) extending their season going to the state tournament and then taking a week off to recuperate, but we’re coming around. The win over Molokai last week really helped to build up the team’s confidence, so we hope to keep that going and be the MIL spoilers and make it to the state tournament.”
The MIL regular season runs through mid-April, with the championship tournament scheduled for the first week of May.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Championship Tournament will take place on the Big Island in Hilo on May 12-14.