Pearl City Vol­ley­ball Faces Two Fi­nal Matches This Week

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - West Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

The Pearl City boys vol­ley­ball team’s greater chore as the reg­u­lar sea­son winds down is “to fin­ish,” ac­cord­ing to long­time head coach Stephanie Shige­masa.

The team en­ters its fi­nal two OIA matches Thurs­day ver­sus Camp­bell and Mililani at home with their play­off hopes still hang­ing in the bal­ance. Pre­vail­ing in close games has been among the team’s chal­lenges this spring, al­though there was a ray of light in that re­gard when it edged Nanakuli 2-1 March 20.

“For us, get­ting over the hump and fin­ish­ing that game was big be­cause we’ve usu­ally lost those games,” she said. “They were able to push through that one, and it was ex­cit­ing for them. They were able to see the re­sults of work­ing hard.”

Pearl City has one of the youngest teams in the state and no se­niors: Six ju­niors, five sopho­mores and a fresh­man fill out the ros­ter. “It’s good that I’ll have ev­ery­one back next year,” Shige­masa said. “A lot of them are still learn­ing the game. In the past, we’ve usu­ally had kids who have played for a while.”

The team lost its first five matches be­fore win- ning three straight (over Rad­ford, Wa­ialua and Nanakuli) prior to a 14day lay­off be­tween OIA matches. The break al­lowed the Charg­ers to play in the pres­ti­gious Iolani Tour­na­ment over the weekend, where they were to play some of the state’s top teams. Pearl City’s pool in­cluded Moanalua as well as ILH teams Saint Louis and Iolani.

“It worked out good for us (sched­ule-wise) — we have some prac­tice time, and we’ll have some tour­na­ment play (at Iolani) and game sit­u­a­tions,” Shige­masa said.

This week, the fo­cus is all on Thurs­day’s Camp­bell and Mililani matches. The top six teams from the West ad­vance to the OIA Di­vi­sion I post­sea­son tour­na­ment. The Charg­ers were cling­ing to the fi­nal spot at press time.

“Hope­fully, it will help us to play at home,” Shige­masa said. “We need to win (at least) one of two. Two wins would be great. If we don’t beat Mililani, it could come down to our match with Camp­bell.”

While Shige­masa’s cur­rent team is in­ex­pe­ri­enced, the Charg­ers fea­ture a taller ros­ter than nor­mal. “We have a lot of big kids at 6-2 and 6-3,” she said. “I’d say that our block­ing has been one of our bet­ter as­sets. The in­ex­pe­ri­ence has been the hard part. The men­tal part we’ve strug­gled with. For us, we just want them to play hard and be con­sis­tent in our play. They’ve had a hard time with that be­cause of the in­ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The OIA DI tour­na­ment runs April 8-26 at var­i­ous sites on Oahu. The top five fin­ish­ers will earn the league’s berths for the DI boys state tour­na­ment May 2-3 and May 9-10.

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