He kept grinding away, day by day, and now, Max Slaughter is at the top of his game.
The Moanalua senior is also atop the Star-Advertiser Boys Volleyball All-State Fab 15. Coaches and media voted the 6-foot-2 outside hitter the player of the year after Slaughter sparked Na Menehune to an OIA championship. Moanalua reached the semifinal round of the state tournament, falling to eventual champion Punahou in five gripping sets.
Punahou junior Jack Deuchar was second in the balloting, which is the closest finish since the Fab 15 format was installed.
Here’s a look at the Fab 15.
1. Max Slaughter, Moanalua, OH, 6-2, Sr.
Consistent hitter from any spot on the floor. High of 30 kills in semifinal loss to Punahou. Also, in the state tourney, Slaughter had 20 kills and 10 digs against Mililani.
2. Jack Deuchar, Punahou, OH, 6-7, Jr.
Found his stride late in the season, closed with 22 kills vs. ‘Iolani in state final. He also had 13 kills and six digs against Castle, and 22 kills with six digs and six blocks against Moanalua.
3. Kupono Browne, ‘Iolani, OH, 6-4, Jr.
Versatile and athletic, his emergence lifted Raiders to their first ILH title since 2008. Browne had 11 kills, two aces, five digs in a sweep of Kalaheo, then 14 kills, two aces and seven digs in the final against Punahou.
4. Shea Suzumoto, Punahou, L, 5-9, Sr.
The lone returning starter was bedrock of the defense. 18 digs vs. Moanalua in state semifinal; 10 digs vs. ‘Iolani in state final as Punahou won its eighth state title in a row.
5. Lucas Biondi, St. Francis, OH, 6-4, So.
Biondi peaked at the right time. 15 kills, 2 aces vs. Nanakuli; 15 kills, 9 aces, 4 digs vs. Seabury Hall; 19 kills, 9 digs vs. Kapaa in D-II state final for the repeat state champion Saints.
6. Kawai Hong, Punahou, OPP, 6-4, Jr.
Hong was a versatile, valuable weapon for the Raiders. Averaged 8.5 kills, 5.3 digs per match, including 12 kills vs. Moanalua, and 10 kills, 11 digs in final vs. ‘Iolani.
7. Matthew Saffrey, Kamehameha, OH, 6-0, Sr.
Standout setter repeats at No. 7, multi-skilled leader of talented, young Warriors. Saffery had his best match in a five-set win over eventual ILH champion ‘Iolani with 44 assists and 11 digs. He also had 33 assists and 12 digs in a four-set victory over eventual state champion Punahou.
8. Kawika Lee, ‘Iolani, OH/OPP, 6-1, Sr.
The talented two-sport all-state selection was a reliable, skilled defender and offensive weapon. 11 kills vs. Kalaheo in a state semifinal; 11 kills, 10 digs vs. Punahou in the final.
9. Shane Harimoto, ‘Iolani, S, 6-0, Sr.
The highest-ranked setter in the Fab 15 was steady and trusting, relying on his multiple weapons without ceasing. His timing with dump shots was also impeccable, saving it for the perfect moment.
10. Liam York, Kalaheo, OH, 6-3, Sr.
York was key to the Mustang attack, launching from every direction. He had 19 kills in an OIA semifinal win over Castle and 19 more in a finals loss to Moanalua. At the state tourney, he had 18 kills against Farrington, 22 against KS-Maui and 12 against ‘Iolani.
11. Kiran Costa, Kapaa, OH, 6-1, Sr.
The active, versatile senior was often phenomenal on the big stage. Costa had 20 kills against Hawaii Prep; 19 kills, four aces and six digs against University; and 17 kills , two aces and four digs in the finals against St. Francis.
12. DiAeris McRaven, Moanalua, M/OPP, 6-5, Jr.
Few players in the islands have the radius and lift of McRaven. He has become more disciplined in his attack from either side. He had 17 kills and two blocks in the OIA final against Kalaheo. In the state tourney, he put down 15 kills against Mililani, and 13 kills with four digs against Punahou.
13. Christmas Togiai, Kamehameha, OH, 6-2, Jr.
The three-sport standout capped his junior year with a promising season in volleyball as an outside hitter. Had his best efforts against the ILH’s top teams: 22 kills, 13 digs against ‘Iolani; 20 kills against Punahou.
14. Jesus Garcia, St. Francis, S, 5-11, Sr.
The four-year starting setter was the perfect hub, combining skill, vision and feel to lead the Saints over some of the top teams in the state, and then another Division II state title. He had 33 assists and five kills against Nanakuli; 36 assists and two kills against Seabury Hall; and 38 assists and three kills in the final against Kapaa.
15. Jarin Simon, ‘Iolani, L, 5-7, Sr.
Relentless and vital, Simon was seemingly everywhere at the state tourney. He had 12 digs against Hilo, nine digs against Kalaheo, and a whopping 19 digs in the state final against Punahou.
Makua Marumoto, St. Francis
Chance Guillermo, Mililani
Kolten Soon, Mid-Pacific
Carter Kamana, ‘Iolani
Ezra Barnes, Waianae
Cole Fukumitsu, Moanalua
Josh Awai, University
Ethan James, Kamehameha-Maui
Kale Spencer, Kamehameha-Maui
Kaala Deitch, Hilo
Kamau Makaike, Kamehameha-Hawaii
Tyler Wemple, Kalaheo