Shea Suzumoto’s defense sparks Punahou over Castle in state tourney

Punahou's Shea Suzumoto (2) kept the ball in play in a first-round state-tournament match on Monday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Ask Rick Tune about excellence in the back row, and the names Shea Suzumoto and Davis Lau pour forth.

They provide the foundation of Punahou’s defense, and that was apparent in a 25-9, 25-15, 25-19 sweep of Castle on Monday night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

After winning seven state championships in a row, Punahou entered this year’s New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships unseeded after finishing second in the ILH. Yet, they’ve got plenty of talent across the board. On a relatively young squad, the experience and toughness of Suzumoto and Lau on serve-receive are the constants.

“We play for each other. This year, having a new team, we have little crevices in our play that we try to fill by playing together. As long as we do that, we’ll be fine,” Suzumoto said. “The expectations are on our shoulders as seniors, so we push ourselves.”

That, of course, is easier said than done. When Punahou has been at its best, the Buffanblu have been poised and unified. To advance past the quarterfinal — they meet BIIF champion KS-Hawaii on Thursday at Radford — and then the semifinal, the Buffanblu are taking no opponent for granted.

“One game at a time. One point at a time. Reset, focus on the next play,” said Suzumoto, a senior. “When we come in the huddle, make eye contact. For me, seeing all my passers before the serve, give each other a little look, resetting each play, forgetting about the mistakes and being positive.”

Tune is counting on seniors like Suzumoto. The trust is there, and the underclassmen, like 6-foot-7 junior outside hitter Jack Deuchar, who had 13 kills against Castle, are making strides.

“We want them feeling comfortable on the court, not think about too many things. There’s a fine line between that and executing technically,” Tune said.

It had been a long time since Punahou hadn’t won the ILH: 2003. But winning the state title after finishing second or even third in the ILH has happened more than few times in various sports for multiple schools.

“It’s going to take the whole team buying in not just every match, but every play of every match, to do their role and their role only. We have to execute at a higher level,” Tune noted. “We did a nice job tonight, but we’re going to have to execute even better. We had a lot of mental lapses.


Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1April 29Hilo vs. LeilehuaHilo 25-17, 19-25, 25-22, 25-16Hilo
2April 29Kalaheo vs. FarringtonKalh 25-14, 25-18, 25-16Kalaheo
3April 29Lahainaluna vs. MililaniMil 25-19, 25-23, 25-10Lahainaluna
4April 29Punahou vs. CastlePun 25-9, 25-15, 25-19Punahou
5May 2(3) KS-Hawaii vs. PunahouPun 25-6, 25-14, 25-19Radford
6May 2(2) Moanalua vs. MililaniMoan 25-17, 25-9, 22-25, 25-22Radford
7May 2(4) KS-Maui vs. KalaheoKalh 25-13, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20Moanalua
8May 2(1) 'Iolani vs. HiloIol 25-14, 25-15, 25-23Moanalua
9*May 3KS-Maui vs. HiloHilo, 2-1Radford
10*May 3KS-Hawaii vs. MililaniMil, 2-0Radford
11May 3Kalaheo vs. 'IolaniIol 25-19, 25-7, 25-18Moanalua
12May 3Punahou vs. MoanaluaPun 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 15-5Moanalua
13*May 4Hilo vs. MililaniMil 18-25, 25-21, 16-14Blaisdell Arena
14*May 4Kalaheo vs. MoanaluaKalh 25-14, 25-21Blaisdell Arnea
15May 4'Iolani vs. Punahou7 p.m.Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email