Despite another in a long line of all-ILH state finals in girls volleyball, a bunch of new names led the way this year.
‘Iolani’s Bailey Choy was judged the best player in the state in the Star-Advertiser’s 2015 Fab 15 published on Sunday (subscription required), the first time a player was named player of the year from a team that failed to win the state title since Kanoe Kamanao was named the best in the land by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2002. The Honolulu Advertiser went with state champion Tuli Peters of Kahuku that season.
Choy didn’t exactly come from out of nowhere. ILH coaches all spoke in hushed tones about how good the honorable mention selection could be as a junior, and she proved them right. Choy led the Raiders to the ILH crown and took ‘Iolani within three points of a state title.
She became the first girl judged the best in the state by a newspaper without being on the first team the prior season since Kanani Herring of Kamehameha in 2005. Herring was just a freshman then.
To put Choy’s rapid rise in perspective, the last time a senior rose from never being mentioned on an all-state first team to become player of the year was Peters in 2002 when she sparked the Red Raiders’ magical run to the title on the Big Island. Malia MacFarlane preceded her, being named the player of the year in 2000 for Punahou after failing to make the team as a junior. Lily Kahukumoku did it as a junior for Kamehameha in 1997, but she transferred in from Texas.
A player rising from outside the first team was pretty common before that, with it happening five years in a row from 1989-1993 with Debbie Lambert of Punahou, Kamehameha’s Nani Cockett, Pele Baker of McKinley, Hilo’s Jennifer Wilson and Danielle Robins of University doing it.
There was only the Honolulu Advertiser’s all-state team each year back then, and the first team was limited to six. The Star-Bulletin didn’t have its first all-state team until 2000.
Choy wasn’t alone in being a first-timer to the newspaper’s elite team. Of the 15 athletes honored, only Moanalua’s Johanna Kruize, Punahou’s Brandee Markwith and Chanelle Molina of Konawaena repeated. The top four spots were all occupied by new faces.