HILO — To most coaches, the preseason offers them a chance to evaluate their players in game situations and experiment with different lineups.
That was indeed the case Friday in the opening round of the Hilo High School girls preseason volleyball tournament at Hilo Armory.
Ten teams battled throughout the evening in what amounted to a good starting point with a lot of hustle, some occasional terrific volleyball and some sloppy action. The two-day tournament continues at 8:30 a.m. today and runs throughout the afternoon.
“It’s a good start for us,” Hilo head coach Olino Kotaki said. “Like all the schools, we haven’t had much practice time, plus we have several girls coming off playing for club teams this summer. We’re trying to get everyone playing as a team and on the same page.
“I think we have a good group of girls this year. We should be pretty good if everything comes together and we can play as a team. But right now, we’ve got a couple of injuries, and a lot of the girls have to get in better physical shape for the season.”
Kotaki split her varsity team into two squads for the Vikings’ tournament and believes the move will benefit the players.
The Vikings coach has four seniors — Leilani Smith, Kawehi Granito-Wallace, Chelzie Ulu and Cheyrub Cabarloc — who will be counted on for leadership.
In addition to the seniors, the Vikings have a solid blend of talent with juniors Evalani Toledo, Amanda Loeffler, Angel Alameda, Maraea Chung and Keala Wilbur-Gabriel; sophomores Taylor Alicuben, Shavonne DeMattos and Tiani Teanio; and freshman Shalyn Guithier. Alameda is one of the league’s better defensive specialists while Alicuben is a promising setter.
In first-round play, both Hilo Gold and Hilo Blue finished with 2-2 records. Kamehameha-Hawaii has three teams in the tournament — two varsity, the Blue and White, and a junior varsity squad called Kamehameha-HI. Both Kamehameha varsity squads sported 6-0 records, and the junior varsity was 1-5.
Pahoa White was 3-3, and Pahoa Green and Laupahoehoe each went 0-4 on Friday.
“It was a good day for all the teams,” Hilo assistant athletic director Budgie Baker said. “It’s really early in the season, so the timing is a little off, and the teams were a little out of sync. But as the teams play more and the players get into better shape, we’re going to see a lot better volleyball. It should be a good year.”
c Friday’s scores: Hilo Gold def. Pahoa Green 25-8, 25-13; Kamehameha White def. Hilo Blue 25-17, 25-17; Hilo Blue def. Kamehameha-HI 25-20, 25-15; Kamehameha Blue def. Hilo Gold 25-15, 25-11; Pahoa White def. Laupahoehoe 25-9, 25-22; Kamehameha Blue def. Laupahoehoe 25-6, 25-0; Kamehameha Blue def. Pahoa White 25-8, 25-6; Kamehameha White def. Pahoa Green 25-12, 25-14; Pahoa White split with Kamehameha-HI 23-25, 25-19; Kamehameha White def. Kamehameha-HI 25-17, 25-9.