For years, the Eagles of Hawaii Baptist Academy were the big fish in the small pond.
The small private school in Nuuanu Valley developed a volleyball program that gave other Division II programs an inkling of what consistency and commitment to excellence could do. The Eagles dominated D-II and, on occasion, took on the powerhouses of D-I of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
These days, HBA is locked into a well-earned spot among the D-I giants. Longtime coach Teoni Obrey will guide his team in the season opener on Saturday at ‘Iolani. Game time is 11:30 a.m. No spectators will be allowed.
“We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to have a season. School administrators and athletic directors at the ILH schools have been working hard to get this done. We are so happy for our student-athletes,” Obrey said.
A year ago, the spring sports season had barely begun before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. Instead of the sound of heavy spikes and cheering crowds, silence.
The return of sports in the ILH began with a few sports during the winter. HBA was among the first schools to reopen its classroom doors while incorporating protocol-infused sports, or a “sports experience” for its students.
Now, the boys volleyball team gets a chance to face one of the state’s top teams.
“We have several returnees who were role players last season. It will be interesting to see how they develop in their expanded roles,” Obrey said. “We have two seniors who played middle last year, Braden Hall and Len Silva. Both will get the chance to play on the pins. Hunter DeMello, Jeremy Oyer and Jon Punohu-Freeman, all seniors, will also be key contributors.”
Elsewhere on Saturday in ILH boys volleyball, Punahou visits Mid-Pacific and Maryknoll goes to Kamehameha.
In girls matches, Kamehameha entertains Le Jardin and Mid-Pacific hosts Punahou. All matches in ILH play will be streamed online.