The Punahou Buffanblu got a colorful experience in Japan recently.
The battles on the court were unforgettable, too. Punahou met the nation’s top three high school boys volleyball teams and emerged with a 3-0 mark. Punahou swept Shittenoji 25-22, 25-23, outlasted Sundai 24-26, 27-25, 25-15, 25-21, and then rallied past Toa 26-28, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19.
Coach Rick Tune welcomed the opportunity for his team, a group that he considers potentially his best ever, even after six consecutive state championships — and eight in the past nine seasons. Coach Tune chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Monday (Hawaii time) shortly before the Buffanblu boarded their return flight to the islands.
HPW: What were the highlights of the trip on and off the court?
Tune: Spending time at an orphanage in Tokyo, school exchanges with Shittenoji, Kaeo and Gakushiun, and learning about the rich history, tradition and people of Japan. Playing the top two teams in Japan in two very competitive matches was the volleyball highlight. We definitely raised our level of play and execution on this trip.
HPW: Where were these photos taken?
Tune: One pic is with Toa High School, one of the best teams in all of Japan. We also attended kendo practice at Kaeo High School. We visited Shittenoji Temple with the (Punahou) orchestra and chorale, who played three amazing performances.
HPW: Was it the best trip ever for Punahou?
Tune: It ranks right up there. It’s our first time taking the boys to Japan and the first international trip during my tenure as head coach.
HPW: What were the Japanese teams like?
Tune: They play at an extremely high level. Their programs played for the national championship the last few years.
HPW: Do they have a similar style and attack as ILH teams?
Tune: No, they’ve very different. Many more combination plays, much better floor defense and ball control.
HPW: Is their style similar to any Hawaii teams?
Tune: No, not at all.
HPW: I remember seeing a Japanese college women’s teams play against Hawaii on TV years ago. They dug everything.
Tune: Yup, it was the same. They were epic matches.