The Kamehameha girls volleyball team had enough challenges already but unpredictability can be added to the list.
The Warriors were primed to defend their BIIF Division I title without two of their best players in Nani Spaar, who’ll play at Santa Clara, and Tiani Bello, who’s headed to Eckerd College in Florida.
Then the COVID-19 numbers kept climbing and the HHSAA pushed four fall sports (girls volleyball, football, cross-country, cheerleading) to January 2021. Kamehameha coach Guy Enriques saw it coming, even before Hawaii hit a record 231 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.
“We’re disappointed, but it’s a smart choice,” he said. “When you see the numbers on Oahu, you don’t know how to control that.
“Once the season starts, it could get worse and out of hand. It would be a lost opportunity for the kids to have a season. Let’s get them into school and we’ll figure out how to run sports. The kids are chomping at the bit. But it’s time to be tough and suck it up.”
Enriques thinks the 2021 team could be better than last year’s edition. Last season, the Warriors won the BIIF title for the first time since 2014 but lost to Punahou in the state quarterfinals.
“No doubt, we’ve lost some great kids in Bello and Spaar but we’ve got a young squad and a lot of strength on the bench,” he said. “Our nucleus has been in the program for three years and been buying into the system. I think we’ll be stronger.”
Kamehameha will have two All-BIIF standouts in Taina Kaauwai and setter Sierra Scanlan. The duo will drive the engine of Kamehameha’s quest for consecutive BIIF titles.
But for now, the keys have been pulled. Things will get started next year.
It’s been an adjustment to the empty nest syndrome after the four Enriques brothers all left home.
Evan Enriques is due home this week. The 2014 Kamehameha graduate played at Stanford, where he was a two-time All-American.
He’s now a full-time commercial fisherman in Alaska. Fishing and ocean life have long been a part of the Enriques’ lives.
Last month, Stanford announced it was cutting 11 sports, including men’s volleyball.
“That’s really huge,” Guy Enriques said. “That’s a national championship team, and they’re always competing. To lose a big school, it might make it easier to lose a smaller school. But they’re working hard to get it back on the map.”
Emmett Enriques, a 2015 Kamehameha graduate, played at Cal State Northridge and Cal Baptist. He’s got his real estate license and is moving to Oahu and hoping to eventually move to Los Angeles.
“He’s more of a big city kid,” Guy Enriques said. “He loves the big city atmosphere.”
The 2017 Kamehameha graduates and twins, Addison and Avery, are home. Addison will be a senior at Concordia and Avery a senior at Grand Canyon.
Sometimes, organizers want to hold sporting events so badly, something Enriques knows. He got an invite to the Nike tournament of championships in Florida. It’s scheduled for October.
“That’s really crazy,” Guy Enriques said. “It’s the biggest high school tournament, and I got an invite to join in Florida. That’s how crazy people are.”
It’s one of the tournaments his Warriors usually compete in, but he’s taking a pass this year.
Hawaii Prep coach Sharon Peterson is passing the time by sticking to a routine.
“I’m keeping up pulling weeds, and I have two dogs,” she said.
Like Enriques, volleyball has occupied a big part of her life.
She spent 25 years at UH-Hilo and then has been coaching the HPA boys and girls teams for just as long.
“I know the players are greatly disappointed,” she said. “We had the start date of Aug. 3 and it was pushed back. It just seems they get their hopes up and it gets pushed back. I know it’s really disappointing. It’s the same thing for the other athletes, too. It’s a shame.”
The ageless Peterson fits into the higher risk candidates because she’s over 65 years old. But she’s far from feeling sorry for herself. She only thinks of the players.
“I’m sorry for the kids. You’re only young once and have only four years in high school,” she said. “Last year was bad for the boys. This year it’s all of them. It’s been unavoidable but very difficult.”
HPA finished as the BIIF runner-up to Konawaena but saw the emergence of Parker Lewis, who was named to the All-BIIF first team. The sophomore outside hitter will lead the charge but only after another postponement to the season.