It’s not often when a coach talks about potential that a player or team maxes out and goes above and beyond its goals and expectations.
Heading into the 2011-12 boys volleyball season, Kamehameha-Hawaii coach Guy Enriques knew his young squad had ability. How that talent blended with some seasoned players would determine just how far the Warriors would rise.
Kamehameha showed flashes of brilliance during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Blue Division season, beating rival Waiakea three times to win the Division I title. But the Warriors then raised their level of play and pushed perennial powerhouse Punahou to the brink before falling 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-11, 15-13 in the Division I state championship match at Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.
For his efforts, Enriques was named BIF Blue Division Coach of the Year.
“It was absolutely a fantastic year for us,” Enriques said. “Every four years, we set a goal, and with this year, we’re ahead of schedule on what we want to do in the program.
The Warriors (18-1) were led by 6-foot-1 sophomore outside hitter Evan Enriques, and seniors Daniel Aina, a versatile 5-8 setter, Ryan Thomas, a 5-11 defensive specialist, and DJ Grant-Johnson, a 6-3 rightside hitter; and junior Kaipo Woolsey, a 6-0 middle blocker.
To cap the Warriors’ impressive run through an undefeated regular season, Kamehameha placed three players on the All-BIIF’s Blue Division first team and two on the second team, including the Player of the Year in the high-flying Evan Enriques.
BIIF coaches determined the division all-stars in a league-wide vote.
Evan Enriques, ranked as one of the top sophomores in the country by USA Volleyball, led Kamehameha’s potent offense, hitting over and through double and triple blocks as the Warriors finished the BIIF season with a 16-0 record. But he was more than just a spike-cranker. He also played outstanding defense, was one of the state’s best servers and gave Kamehameha steady leadership despite his youth.
“I’m really pleased with how Evan delivered and carried us most of the time,” Coach Enriques said. “Everybody on the team understood what we were trying to do, and they accepted it. We looked to set Evan a lot, and our guys knew how to find him.”
Evan Enriques is joined on the Blue Division first team by Aina and Thomas as well as Waiakea’s Mamane Namahoe, Hawaii Prep’s Keanu Yamamoto, and Kohala’s D.J. Wong and Kulia Aveiro-Kalaniopio.
Aina, who will play for the University of Hawaii in 2012-13, was the glue that held the Warriors’ offense and defense together, and he had an explosive jump-serve that terrorized opponents. He twisted his ankle in Game 3 of the state final against Punahou, and that injury hurt the Warriors’ chances of pulling off an upset.
Thomas was one of the state’s top defensive specialists, often grabbing the serve and making a pinpoint pass to Aina, who set Enriques or Grant-Johnson for momentum-shifting kills. He also had a productive serve that befuddled opponents and helped keep the pressure on them.
Namahoe, a 6-0 sophomore outside hitter, was one of the league’s most talented underclassmen and provided Waiakea coach Ecko Osorio with consistent hitting, blocking, defense and serving. His steady all-around play helped the public-school Warriors (13-3) challenge Kamehameha for the division title.
Yamamoto, a 5-8 senior outside hitter, was an athletic force for Ka Makani (11-6). His strong all-around play provided coach Sharon Peterson with a spark as Yamamoto played well against much-taller opponents and helped his team claim the BIIF’s Division II crown.
Wong, a 6-2 senior outside hitter, was one of the state’s dominant hitters. But he also showcased his all-around skills on defense and at the service line as the Cowboys (12-5) finished as BIIF Division II runner-up to earn a berth in the state tournament.
Aveiro-Kalaniopio, a 5-11 senior setter, anchored the Kohala offense with his soft sets and timely dinks. His steady passing to the hard-hitting Wong and 6-3 senior Christopher Roxburgh were a key to the team’s success, as was his defensive hustle.
The Blue Division second team includes Kamehameha’s Grant-Johnson and Woolsey; Waiakea’s Donovan Hoohuli (6-0 middle hitter) and Ian Witten (6-4 senior middle blocker); Hilo’s Makoa Tandal (5-7 junior outside hitter); Kohala’s Roxburgh, and Hawaii Prep’s Jevin Ching (6-3 junior outside hitter).