BIIF volleyball: Enrique-less Kamehameha starts off new era with victory

It’ll be a case study for Kamehameha, which relied on a set of siblings for its superior ball-control, the volleyball team’s best weapon last season.

Evan, Emmett, Addison, and Avery Enriques were all gifted passers from serve-receive to hitting attacks. The got the scoring party started. And they set a foundation for four years.

No surprise, the Warriors are the four-time defending BIIF Division I champions.

But the four brothers have all gone off to college.

For second-year Kamehameha coach Sam Thomas, who also coaches the girls, he’s always put a heavy emphasis on the first-touch ball basics: serving and serve-receive passing.

If the Warriors can pass the ball and get sideouts, they’ve got the hitting thunder to make scoring runs, despite losing all of their starters except for one.

The only starter back is 6-foot-5 senior Nalu Kahapea, who was named to the All-BIIF first team last season. He’ll switch over from middle blocker to L1 (left-side No. 1 hitter). He was recently named BIIF player of the year for basketball, so anything he achieves in his second sport is all gravy.

He might add another POY, too.

Kahapea crushed 29 kills, and Kamehameha defeated Hilo 25-15, 27-29, 25-19, 25-22 in a BIIF Division I showdown season-opener on Wednesday night at the Vikings Gym.

The other starters are all new faces. They had to wait their turn, but now it’s their time to step up.

Kahapea’s partner from the basketball court, senior Isaiah Nakoa-Oness, has the job as the L2. He’s as tough as Kahapea, except a few inches shorter. He pounded 15 kills for the Warriors, who had 53 kills and 39 unforced errors.

The two outside hitters can absolutely pound the ball, but both have nice off-speed roll shots and can hit from the back row. They’re solid passers and roofing partners at the net, too.

Freshman Chyston Loa and sophomore Kamau Makaike are the middle blockers and offer nice size at 6-2 and 6-1 in the front row. Loa is a no-fear server. If his team is down, Loa will still take a good rip at the ball.

Junior Gavin Galimba and sophomore Davin Masanda are the setters/opposites. Kamahao Kawelu, a 5-10 junior, is the libero.

“We have only six returnees from last year,” Thomas said. “Only Nalu saw significant time. It’s major rebuilding for us. We have multiple first-time players on the team.”

The rest of the Division I contenders are in the same canoe.

Waiakea, the two-time league runner-up, lost all of its starters. Sophomore outside hitter Makana Kaehuaea-Credo is the only one who logged major minutes.

The Vikings, under first-year coach Cy Alicuben, lost four starters, but they’ve got a nice nucleus in junior setter Cy Alicuben Jr., who has soft hands and stellar ball placement, sophomore hitters Kekaukahi Alameda and Kaala Deitch, who’s 5-10 and built like a stick but explosive with quick hops and a fast arm swing.

Alameda, who’s jumping skills in basketball translate to volleyball, slammed 17 kills, and Deitch added 15 kills for Hilo, which finished with 40 kills and 33 unforced errors.

The Viks don’t have quite the firepower that Kamehameha and struggled with their serve-receive passing. The Warriors fired more aces, 13-2.

Kealakehe could be a sleeper. The Waveriders return hard-hitting senior Anthony “Head” Trevino and sophomore Isaiah Hooper, a well-skilled hitter.

For so long, the Big Three — Kamehameha, Waiakea, or Hilo — has claimed the league’s two HHSAA berths.

The Waveriders last went to states in 2003 as the BIIF champion, but for the first time in a long time, the door looks wide open.

Well, maybe it’ll be half open if Kahapea keeps bringing his big hammer and leads the Warriors to another BIIF title.