Punahou tuning in at higher frequency

Punahou setter Buddy Scott went up to block Iolani's Hugh Hogland during the second set of a boys ILH volleyball game on Tuesday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser
Punahou setter Buddy Scott went up to block Iolani’s Hugh Hogland during the second set of a boys ILH volleyball game on Tuesday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser

Most humans experience planet earth and the surrounding solar system in three dimensions with five senses.

Rick Tune and his Punahou volleyball team, arguably the best volleyball program in the nation, decipher information at another level. With just one hitting error in a 25-15, 25-16 sweep of ‘Iolani on Tuesday, Tune enjoyed the excellence, but searched into execution, fulfillment and efficiency foremost.

Could the Buffanblu have utilized their back-row attack more? That’s what Tune, a seven-time state-championship head coach, thought about the second set. And yet, the constant theme since early in league play to this day is that newcomers are, far and beyond, immersed in the system. They understand the analytics of every aspect of the game, developed by Tune and his cohorts, penned long before crunching of numbers became a national pastime. They have picked up every nuance and complexity from day one. Tune, not exactly a lenient taskmaster, praises this bunch to no end without compromising that utmost standard.

Kanai Akana (nine kills, 1.5 blocks), Ethan Siegfried (five kills, two aces, two blocks) and Ryan Wilcox (five kills, one ace) are a powerful trio of hitters with height and length. Setters Buddy Scott, a 6-foot-5 junior, and 6-2 Jameson McKibbin combined for 21 assists, two aces and two blocks.

Punahou, Tune said, does not believe in doubling for blocks. When Akana and Ryan Hong came up with blocks on ‘Iolani’s 6-9 senior, Hugh Hogland (seven kills), they did so purely on reads.

Only Punahou can make powerhouses ‘Iolani seem like mere mortals. Though it was a second sweep of the Raiders in regular-season play, Tune has seen the progress on the other side of the net.

Jordan (Inafuku) and his staff are definitely doing a great job with their squad,” Tune said of ‘Iolani’s first-year head coach. “They’re definitely playing better since the first time we played them.”

Hogland, the only Raider with more than three kills, kept his composure despite a frustrating night.

“We choked. We didn’t handle their float serves,” he said, alluding to the very start of the match when Punahou came after him in the back row.”

The frustration was more of a simmer than a rant. Hogland still believes his team is one of two that can beat Punahou. The other? Kamehameha-Hawaii, he said.

“They have great ball control with the Enriques twins,” Hogland noted.

His right shoulder was wrapped in ice after the match.

“It’s getting worse every time,” he said, adding that he swings a baseball bat left-handed.

Can he swing at a volleyball left-handed? The Hawaii Boys Volleyball Invitational Tournament begins at ‘Iolani on Thursday, and Hogland expects to play through the injury. The field will be potent, led by Punahou with a mix of teams from California, one from Canada and a group of local teams including Hawaii Baptist, Maryknoll and Mid-Pacific of the ILH. Adrenaline will probably help Hogland push through the pain. Sean Carney departed after two solid seasons as the Raiders’ coach, now working for Hudl in Nebraska, but Hogland feels loyal to his new coach.

“To be honest, Coach Jordan is probably one of the best coaches in the state. I’ve played for a lot of coaches — Charlie Wade (Hawaii men’s coach) and Milan (Zarkovic). Coach Jordan is cerebral and has a good mix of energy and X’s and O’s,” Hogland said.


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