Hawaii Baptist’s lone senior was the one standing at the service line with a seventh straight Division II state championship on the line.
Kellen Takatsuka, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter who starts alongside 5-foot-9 junior Michael Johnson, served the final four points of the Eagles’ 25-17, 25-23, 25-20 sweep of Kapaa in the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships on Saturday night at Blaisdell Arena.
HBA (23-0) extended its state tournament winning streak to 22 with a sweep of the Warriors (14-1), who HBA head coach Teoni Obrey called the best Division II team they’ve had to beat during the streak.
“I thought Kapaa man-for-man probably outmanned us at certain positions against them,” Obrey said. “They’re probably the best Division II team we’ve played in the last five or six years. I think we were fortunate (to sweep them).”
Kapaa showed some jitters early as HBA went on an 11-0 run to take the first set relatively easily.
It was a battle the next two sets as Kapaa hung close with HBA. It trailed 23-22 and 24-23 in Set 2 before falling just short and was tied 20-20 in the third set when 6-foot-2 middle Maxwell Wiemken smashed his third kill of the set for a 21-20 Eagles advantage.
Takatsuka then finished off the Warriors from the service line and added his ninth kill of the match to make it 24-20 before a Kapaa hitting error ended it.
As the only senior on the team, Takatsuka had to carry a lot on his shoulders for the Eagles this season.
“There was definitely some pressure,” he admitted. “But I loved playing with these guys. They made it fun. It was good to soak it all in this last game.”
Johnson led all players with 13 kills while hitting .250. He also had 15 digs while setter Davin Rausch had 30 assists and 14 digs.
Outside hitter Carson Schmick and middle Saxsem Shiira tied for a team-high with 12 kills apiece for Kapaa, but the Warriors couldn’t capitalize on an opportunity to steal the second set that may have changed the outcome of the match.
Kapaa had nine hitting errors in the second and a key service error that stopped a four-point run with the Warriors lead 14-11.
“We really wanted that second set,” Kapaa coach Kapule Kaona said. “We were battling point-for-point throughout that entire set and had we gotten that second one, it would have given our boys a lore more confidence and put them on their heels a little bit.”
Obrey has coached the Eagles to nine of the last 10 Division II state crowns overall. He had to pull off one of his better coaching jobs with only one senior on the team and not much height on the outside with Johnson and Takatsuka.
“We lost a lot of our scoring from last year so all season we’ve been trying to find our identity and figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are,” Obrey said. “We came up with making sure we always play the next ball and rallying together as a team and I thought they did a really good job with it. We have a lot of guys that can score points for us.”
Obrey hesitated at first when asked how much his lone senior meant to the team before finally giving in and praising Takatsuka for everything he’s given to the team this season.
“We’ve played about 40 matches this year and (Takatsuka) has been carrying us this year,” Obrey said. “It was great to see him finish strong. We never want to say it but he’s definitely one of the best leaders we’ve ever had in our program. All of the kids really like him and really respect him a lot and I’m glad he went out a state champ.”
Hawaii Baptist's lone senior, Kellen Takatsuka, serves out the match. Eagles notch seventh straight state D-II title with sweep of Kapaa. pic.twitter.com/XVGidWFvon
— Hawaii Prep World (@HawaiiPrepWorld) May 7, 2017