The Baldwin Bears rattled the cage with a talented, very young team the past two seasons under coach Al Paschoal.
On Thursday, they served notice, pushing ILH powerhouse Punahou to the max three sets in a loss, then upending OIA runner-up Moanalua 25-17, 17-25, 19-17 in pool play at the Ann Kang Invitational. The Bears had heavy hearts as they flew to Oahu from Maui.
“Everyone on this team knows someone who lost a home,” Paschoal said, referring to the wildfires that killed 53 people — at last count.
Many more were evacuated, including Paschoal’s sister-in-law. His wife works at the police station in Lahaina.
“It’s out of a movie. Apocalyptic,” he said.
Coming to the tournament is a godsend for the Bears. For three days, at least while they’re on the court at ‘Iolani, it’s all about volleyball. Most of them have played together since seventh grade. Libero Natronai Anana and setter Lilinoe Paschoal, both juniors, have been teammates even longer.
“With her, I’ve been playing with her nine years now ,” Anana said of Paschoal.
“I feel like we have to stick together. You know, on and off the court, just hang out. That’s what makes our chemistry strong. We don’t just hang out in the gym. That will help us on the court,” Paschoal said.
“The trust between us, too,” Anana said. “I trust the girl left and right to me, 100 percent, any day of the week.”
The team can’t help worrying about family and friends back home.
“Before the game, we’re checking to see if our friends are OK, if our families are OK,” Anana said. “As soon as we step off the court, we’re checking to make sure they’re OK. … It’s scary.”
In another battle on day one of the tournament, defending state champion and host ‘Iolani swept Huntington Beach (Calif.) 25-13, 25-22. The Oilers shook off the first set and were in a groove, opening a 21-17 lead. The home team then took control with an 8-1 run to close the match.
The Raiders are 3-0 in Pool B. Punahou is 3-0 in Pool A, all three matches going the maximum three sets.
Pool play resumes Friday morning, 8 a.m.
Punahou def. Oaks Christian 25-16, 16-25, 16-14
Mira Costa def. Baldwin 25-14, 25-19
Los Alamitos def. Glen Rose 25-12, 25-12
Moanalua def. Lovejoy 25-20, 18-25, 15-11
Punahou def. Baldwin 23-25, 25-19, 15-7
Lovejoy def. Glen Rose 25-10, 25-12
Moanalua def. Oaks Christian 25-19, 25-13
Los Alamitos def. Lovejoy 25-16, 25-21
Punahou def. Mira Costa 15-25, 27-25, 18-16
Baldwin def. Moanalua 25-17, 17-25, 19-17
Oaks Christian def. Glen Rose 25-20, 25-19
Sierra Canyon def. Boswell 25-20, 25-19
Cornerstone Christian def. Mid-Pacific 25-18, 25-22
Kapolei def. Orange Lutheran 25-22, 25-23
‘Iolani def. Huntington Beach 25-13, 25-22
Cornerstone Christian vs. Orange Lutheran 25-10, 25-11
Sierra Canyon vs. Mid-Pacific 25-19, 25-16
‘Iolani def. Kapolei 25-23, 25-27, 15-12
Huntington Beach def. Boswell 25-17, 25-22
‘Iolani def. Orange Lutheran 25-16, 25-23
Cornerstone Christian def. Sierra Canyon 26-28, 28-26, 15-12
Huntington Beach def. Mid-Pac 25-13, 25-17
Boswell def. Kapolei 25-18, 25-22
Lovejoy vs. Punahou, lower gym
Moanalua vs. Los Alamitos, upper gym
Oaks Christian vs. Baldwin, lower gym
Mira Costa vs. Glen Rose, upper gym
Lovejoy vs. Baldwin, lower gym
Punahou vs. Los Alamitos, upper gym
Mira Costa vs. Oaks Christian, lower gym
Moanalua vs. Glen Rose, upper gym
Punahou vs. Glen Rose, lower gym
Los Alamitos vs. Baldwin, upper gym
Mira Costa vs. Moanalua, lower gym
Lovejoy vs. Oaks Christian, upper gym
‘Iolani vs. Sierra Canyon, lower gym
Huntington Beach vs. Orange Lutheran, upper gym
Boswell vs. Mid-Pacific, lower gym
Cornerstone Christian vs. Kapolei, upper gym
‘Iolani vs. Mid-Pacific, lower gym
Sierra Canyon vs. Orange Lutheran, upper gym
Cornerstone Christian vs. Boswell, lower gym
Huntington Beach vs. Kapolei, upper gym
Sierra Canyon vs. Kapolei, lower gym
Orange Lutheran vs. Mid-Pacific, upper gym
Cornerstone Christian vs. Huntington Beach, lower gym
‘Iolani vs. Boswell, upper gym
8 a.m., Pool A
Glen Rose vs. Baldwin, lower gym
Oaks Christian vs. Los Alamitos, upper gym
9 a.m., Pool B
Kapolei vs. Mid-Pacific, lower gym
Boswell vs. Orange Lutheran, upper gym
10 a.m., Pool A
Mira Costa vs. Lovejoy, lower gym
Punahou vs. Moanalua, upper gym
11 a.m., Pool B
Cornerstone Christian vs. ‘Iolani
Sierra Canyon vs. Huntington Beach