PAHOA – The pandemic hasn’t been a total loss for Pahoa High senior Carlo Daquioag.
Daquioag has skills to begin with – he’s a class valedictorian and is set to study math at Cal-Berkeley – so instead of just sitting around the past year, he was able to sharpen another skill.
“I noticed that my health was getting on the more poor side,” Daquioag said Monday afternoon outside a Daggers volleyball practice. “I’ve tried to keep up by doing cardio as much as I could, early in the morning. Then I started to eat healthier and cook more. I enjoyed cooking before, but I got better since I was home.”
Everyday shape is one thing, but getting in proper game shape is another matter entirely.
Pahoa returned to practice March 22 and aspects were “really terrible,” Daquioag said. “I’d never been so tired wearing that mask playing volleyball.”
As coach Kahea Rodrigues noted, by now Daggers seniors should be used to the adversity, from the 2018 Lower Puna Eruption to the construction on Highway 130 and now the pandemic.
Why should a matchup with Kamehameha’s twin towers in the middle, Chase Bridges-Hunter and Chyston Loa, faze anyone?
Undersized but undaunted, Pahoa will be the first BIIF public school team to return to athletic competition Tuesday when it takes the court in a boys volleyball match against the powerhouse Warriors in Keaau.
“The goal is to get out there, compete and do the things we’ve been working on in practice, like down-ball defense,” Rodrigues said.
“I think we have to thank the AD (Hoku Haliniak) and our principal, Ms. (Darlene) Bee,” she said, “for supporting us and letting us do this.”
Rodrigues, a former UHH setter, is Haliniak’s daughter.
Daquioag has played volleyball since his freshman year.
“Even though they don’t count and they’re just scrimmages, it’s the matches that I’ve been waiting for the most,” Daquioag said. “Volleyball is a sport that I’ve watched video of and tried to study.”
On Saturday, the Daggers have a match at Keaau in a three-team minitournament that also includes Ka’u. They have four home matches scheduled at their gym, which is ready for volleyball again after being closed for renovations.
Daquioag, Keanu Muck and Maluhia Kuahiwinui will get a senior day April 30 against Kamehameha.
“The hardest part is getting used to wearing the mask,” Rodrigues said with a laugh.
Practices include mask breaks, and each player walks to a their own pod in a separate room in the back of the gym to remain socially distant.
Pahoa’s roster lists nine players, though there were only seven at practice Monday.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that with home schooling, more kids are getting jobs,” Rodrigues said.
It’s possible the Daggers may only have the minimum six Tuesday.
“Carlo may just play outside hitter for the first time in his career,” she said.
If so, Daquioag, usually a libero, will have a chance to sharpen another new skill.
“It’s a start,” he said. “It’s a slow start, but it’s what we’ve been working for.”