Less than three years ago, Max Slaughter didn’t know he would ever get the chance to play volleyball.
Now, he’s a senior captain and the leading outside hitter for Moanalua.
The rise up the sport’s ladder was sudden. Slaughter was afraid when he tried out for club volleyball before his sophomore year, thinking he might not be good enough. Soon, though, he paid his dues and is now one of the best players in the state.
He was featured in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which you can read here.
As a sophomore, he played sparingly for Moanalua.
And then, as a junior, coach Alan Cabanting envisioned him as the one who would deliver big things on the court and in the leadership department. He got one of the two.
Yes, as an outside hitter, Slaughter was a factor in Na Menehune’s run all the way to the Division I state championship game in a loss to Punahou. But, despite being named to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State Fab 15, he didn’t quite step up to that person every team needs to rally around.
That’s what he’s doing this year. It’s been a remarkable journey, from a shy 10th grader to a much more outgoing senior who broke out of his shell socially and as the one who his teammates are counting on.
“I don’t think he said one word to me for about a month after we met,” Moanalua senior setter Cole Fukumitsu said.
Now, Cabanting said, “If you tell people he’s shy, they’ll say, ‘Him? Shy?’ ”
Part of the reason Slaughter didn’t evolve into that major leadership role easily was a tragedy that occurred a year ago. That’s when his father, Kirk Slaughter, died in a boating accident.
As expected, Slaughter took it hard. But the team came to his comfort.
“Max knows we’re always there for him,” Fukumitsu said.
The team honored Kirk Slaughter by having his name written on their warm-up jersey sleeves.
A former high school quarterback and college track and field athlete, Kirk Slaughter, according to Max, was at every game and was always the one cheering the loudest.
Moanalua (10-1) is going for an eighth OIA championship in the last nine years. Na Menehune are also trying to figure out a way to upend all-comers at the state tournament, something they’ve never done, if they can again qualify.
Teams from the ILH have won the state title every year since 1980, and Punahou owns the last seven. Roosevelt of the OIA in 1979 was the last non-ILH team to win it all.