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Lahainaluna boys varsity volleyball team was poised for a breakthrough season

By Staff | Apr 30, 2020

The Lunas started with wins over King Kekaulike, Baldwin and Maui High, as well as a second place finish in the Spartan Invitational preseason tournament sponsored by Seabury Hall.

LAHAINA – With the burgeoning intermediate school program and an off-season club team fueling the sport here on the West Side, the Lahainaluna High School volleyball program looked to be in line for a historic 2020 season. Then, in a blazing kill, the Maui Interscholastic League season lay in ashes – another victim of COVID-19 and the worldwide pandemic.

Guided by head coach Marc Watasaki and assistants Ben Cardon (JV head coach), Ioane Ho’omanawanui, Mharicar Tan, Patricia Nebrida, Nick Gayagoy, Fritz Ruiz, Marion Sidon and Vae Galoia, the Lunas looked impressive as the season began in late February with victories over MIL foes King Kekaulike, Baldwin and Maui High, as well as a second place finish in the Spartan Invitational preseason tournament sponsored by Seabury Hall.

That effort was led by Luna standouts Kaikane Shim, Brian Amby, MJ Domingo and Kaleb Borromeo.

“This season, the boys showed the type of dedication every coach dreams of. They worked hard in the off-season starting back in September. Although we lost a lot of size and experience from last season, the boys were eager to step up and fill the big shoes left behind. Also, due to the pushing by Kaikane (Shim) and MJ (Domingo) at the end of last season, we were able to start a boys’ volleyball club here called Maui Encore as the boys’ side of the girls’ volleyball club,” explained Coach Watasaki.

He related the hot early start of the team to a determined work ethic. “This Lahainaluna team is a rare team to be around. Each player works hard at every practice – no drill is above or beneath them. Their will to improve and to be good teammates is unparalleled. We got hit early with every setback a high school team could suffer-grades, injuries, illness- but the younger guys stepped up and made the team stronger. I felt we were at the point where the entire roster was able to contribute on the court. This team was so tenacious that every coach would mention how hungry the boys were to keep the ball up. No point scored on us was easy, and bodies would be flying all over the place to stay alive. These young men showed that effort goes a long way.”

The team is supported by its dedicated managers.

The 2020 Lahainaluna boys volleyball roster was made up of seniors Ken Alba, MJ Domingo, Roger Nifon, Richard Olmohs, Keahi Shim, Kaleb Borromeo, Brian Amby, Derek Perez and Kaeo Pedroza Kanemitsu, and juniors Tobey Mizuno, Jumar Dela Cruz, Nick Liwanag, Adrian Benito, Kyle Abut, Justin Kaupe Deleon, Akira Olmohs, Dylan Nava and Nicki Liwanag. Varsity managers were Aulani Casco Deleon, Jasmin Fujita and Sherlin Ravida.

The junior varsity Lunas included sophomores Cruz Cosner, Jonahs Kalalau, Steven Olmohs, Denver Duque and Beni Lolesio, and freshmen Emerson Flores, Kana’au Castro, Maison Alexander and Ian Jay Cabanilla. The JV managers were Mahealani Criste, Hokulua Godoy, Lali Kahana and Jaylani Fujita.

Coach Watasaki concluded by saying, “We have got the best manager team in the state, regardless of the sport. These girls could basically run a team on their own. I rely on them so much for the boys… They taught the boys how to cheer and pick each other up. These girls are great managers!”

Nine players formed the JV team.