Tune: Punahou’s struggle could be a gift

Punahou coach Rick Tune instructs his team during a time out against Kamehameha-Hawaii. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser
Punahou coach Rick Tune instructs his team during a time out against Kamehameha-Hawaii. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

He is sometimes a cherubic ruler of this dynasty, but Craig Paranti says it’s not quite the same this season.

Then again, how could anything ever be? His Huntington Beach squad was a senior-heavy juggernaut last season, a dynastic program synonymous with elite California prep volleyball. The win streak, 121 matches in a row, finally came to an end in 2016, and with that also came the graduation of five seniors.

And yet, here they are. The Oilers made their return to the Clash of the Titans tournament on Friday and looked like anything but a program reeling from the loss of talent, skill and depth. Not at all. Six-foot-eight senior Alex Anastassiades was unstoppable from any angle, delivering kills with power, finesse, roll shots and tips to go with his fastball. There isn’t a single angle or shot he struggles with, at least from what he showed against ‘Iolani with his 17 kills (.419).


Alex Anastassiades was a strong presence for Huntington Beach on and off the court. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser
Alex Anastassiades was a strong presence for Huntington Beach on and off the court. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

The lineup is a treasure chest of college volleyball branding, to some extent. Anastassiades, who loves cheering for his teammates during his very few moments on the bench, is on his way to Long Beach State soon. Teammate Noah Franklin will play at USC. Setter Aidan Knipe, just a sophomore, is the son of Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe. It goes on and on. Their 25-22, 25-22, 25-15 sweep of ‘Iolani, along with Punahou’s struggle with a much smaller Kamehameha-Hawaii team should send warning signals to Buff Nation.

The host team was in self-destruct mode until it was down to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation dynasty 20-8. It was, judging by the eerie silence of the 250 or so fans at Hemmeter Fieldhouse, something completely unseen until this night. After all, the Buffanblu, at 12-0 i the ILH coming into the match, hadn’t lost on Oahu. They hadn’t even been truly challenged.

Kamehameha-Hawaii plays defense with the kind of execution and relentlessness rarely seen. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser
Kamehameha-Hawaii plays defense with the kind of execution and relentlessness rarely seen. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

KS-Hawaii? Never is there a scrappier team. Coach Guy Enriques’ team came up with digs and miracle life-support-acrobatic-parallel-to-the-ground saves going full speed away from the net and beyond the end line again and again and again. It is beyond words, really. On one play, two back-row defenders went headfirst for a ball well beyond the serve area, side by side. One of them got a piece of the ball before his body pounded on the hardwood. That gave a third chaser, also beyond the line, just enough time to keep the ball alive and the Warriors sent that ball over the net, only to lose the point.

This is what Punahou faced all night, and it is how KS-Hawaii, with twins Avery and Addison Enriques — the coach’s sons — stabilizing the back row and either side at net, they can stay with any foe. It didn’t matter that the Warriors lost the set, or that they hit just .125. They actually outblocked Punahou 5-3 in that opening game, had only two service errors and simply want to wear every foe down with long rallies. The Warriors are, in many ways, the jab-and-run version of a volleyball team, showing occasional bursts of power. Maybe less Floyd Mayweather and more Sugar Ray Leonard. They are something to behold.

In the end, Punahou overcame some adversity, both beyond its control and self-inflicted. Outside hitter Ethan Siegfried was late to pre-game and sat for a long stretch of the first set. Starting setter Jameson McKibbin was sick with a stomach bug all night, then struggled in the match before being replaced by Buddy Scott.

Once Scott entered, the tone changed, the momentum shifted and KS-Hawaii started reeling. Scott, at 6-5, dished smoothly to Kana‘i Akana (six kills) and Ryan Wilcox (five) as Punahou rallied all the way back and brought fans to their feet with the comeback win.


The Warriors finished the match hitting .190 and still competed to the end. Punahou hit .414 in the second game and still struggled to shake off KS-Hawaii. Punahou finished with 14 service errors, got outblocked 8-4, but won with authority down the stretch. Longtime coach Rick Tune seemed patient enough, at least in the first game.

“I think they were trying to figure out what was happening. They were getting their butts kicked,” he said. “They haven’t really been pushed since Best of the West. We knew that going in, (KS-Hawaii) was going to battle. We had to reset our block quickly, go to different options, and we didn’t do it. Our passing fell apart.”

Therein lies the rub. Being so dominant in an ILH that is a tad bit younger and less powerful means the Buffanblu haven’t had a lot of iron-sharpens-iron, hand-to-hand combat in league play.

“We’ve got to be better at playing in transition, playing long rallies, understanding situations,” Tune said. “Kamehameha-Hawaii just scrapped. We let balls get down without us getting on the floor. We need to play defense more like they do. We talked about it and practiced it all week, but we didn’t do it in the match. They did.”

Yes, Tune and his staff are acutely aware that KS-Hawaii is not a typical team by any means. What they do, they do extremely well, putting their heart and soul into every defensive stand.

“We’re not used to the ball coming back over the net,” Tune said. “This match was necessary for us, a total gift if we respond to it properly.”


That’s Coach Tune, always the cerebral strategist and analytics forerunner, usually chill when any battle gets heated. Usually. But even this seven-time state-championship coach — Punahou has won the last five state titles under Tune — couldn’t restrain himself on this night.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “I lost my cool.”

The Oilers of Huntington Beach (Calif.) were in fine form on Friday. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser
The Oilers of Huntington Beach (Calif.) were in fine form on Friday. (Apr. 14, 2017) Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

COMMENTS

  1. Education First April 15, 2017 10:57 am

    Tune has the easiest gig in the world. Punahou is perpetually stacked with recruited VB players and most schools in Hawaii don’t care about the sport. An 8 year old kid could “coach” them to State championship. Punahou spends big $ (tuition, tutors, housing, etc) so we better win!!! VB is for tall guys who aren’t athletic enough to play basketball anyway. LOL!!!!!


  2. The Rim April 15, 2017 12:15 pm

    @ Ed First- tell that to Micah Christenson KS Kapalama, a three-time All State POY in basketball who plays volleyball at the highest level. Once again a stupid statement from someone who claims to know everything.


  3. Education First April 15, 2017 12:48 pm

    Yeah, Christenson is one of the best servers in the world yet wouldn’t sniff a D1 bball scholie. Too slow afoot and no fast twitch. Imagine if LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook played bball. Their sheer athleticism would make them DOMINATE the sport. Thanks for proving my point, genius.

    UNDEFEATED!


  4. Education First April 15, 2017 12:50 pm

    Meant to say if those NBA players took up volleyball they would dominate.

    NEXT!!


  5. turfwar April 15, 2017 1:27 pm

    The roster lists Anderegg as Anastassiadis. And his brother and dad where at the game. Was the roster wrong?


  6. The Rim April 15, 2017 4:36 pm

    Nice to know you compared him to two NBA players…you proved yourself wrong yet again. Some of the best volleyball players to come out of Hawaii were dominant on the basketball courts as well. Funny how you talk down on kids all the time, very sad life you live. You need help, serious help. Individuals like you are holding on to something bad that happened in your life…I surmise its wanna be syndrome, wanna be something your not. So go on your long rant as always, calling names or whatever tweaks your little penis.


  7. Education First April 15, 2017 8:40 pm

    Are you slow? Comparison was between world class volleyball player Christenson vs. world class basketball players. Who is more athletic? The point was that volleyball athletes no where near basketball players. Bball is where the $ is, Americans who can’t cut it in basketball play volleyball. Not hating, it’s a fact. 3 Hawaiians made last USA volleyball Olympic team. Think that would happen in basketball? Goes to show you the difference in athletes between the two sports. The truth is the truth, deal with it.


  8. Education First April 15, 2017 10:56 pm

    Education First April 15, 2017 at 10:57 am
    Tune has the easiest gig in the world. Punahou is perpetually stacked with recruited VB players and most schools in Hawaii don’t care about the sport. An 8 year old kid could “coach” them to State championship. Punahou spends big $ (tuition, tutors, housing, etc) so we better win!!! VB is for tall guys who aren’t athletic enough to play basketball anyway. LOL!!!!!
    ——————-
    Education First April 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm
    Yeah, Christenson is one of the best servers in the world yet wouldn’t sniff a D1 bball scholie. Too slow afoot and no fast twitch. Imagine if LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook played bball. Their sheer athleticism would make them DOMINATE the sport. Thanks for proving my point, genius.

    UNDEFEATED!
    ——————–
    Education First April 15, 2017 at 8:40 pm
    Are you slow? Comparison was between world class volleyball player Christenson vs. world class basketball players. Who is more athletic? The point was that volleyball athletes no where near basketball players. Bball is where the $ is, Americans who can’t cut it in basketball play volleyball. Not hating, it’s a fact. 3 Hawaiians made last USA volleyball Olympic team. Think that would happen in basketball? Goes to show you the difference in athletes between the two sports. The truth is the truth, deal with it.
    ——————

    I have to say while this imposter is pretty funny, it isn’t me. THERE IS ONLY ONE ME. But I am entertained so keep it coming. I am flattered that so many people pretend to be me. I LOVE IT!

    I do agree that Tune’s gig is the easiest though…


  9. Education First April 15, 2017 10:58 pm

    The Rim April 15, 2017 at 12:15 pm
    @ Ed First- tell that to Micah Christenson KS Kapalama, a three-time All State POY in basketball who plays volleyball at the highest level. Once again a stupid statement from someone who claims to know everything.
    ——————-

    @ The rim, I agree that Micah was really good. But he didn’t make all state 3 times. During his sophomore year he was more of a complimentary player. Wasn’t Pii Mins the POY?


  10. Education First April 15, 2017 11:42 pm

    Rim – BTW, get your facts straight before you spout off about things you have no knowledge about. Minns was the POY in 2009, MC’s soph year so MC wasn’t a 3 time POY. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your dumb argument. Christenson was a good Hawaii bball player…that’s like being a good hockey player in Ethiopia…LOL. Your ignorance is a JOKE. And stop whining chubby cheeks.


  11. Education First April 17, 2017 8:29 am

    Education First April 15, 2017 at 11:42 pm
    Rim – BTW, get your facts straight before you spout off about things you have no knowledge about. Minns was the POY in 2009, MC’s soph year so MC wasn’t a 3 time POY. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your dumb argument. Christenson was a good Hawaii bball player…that’s like being a good hockey player in Ethiopia…LOL. Your ignorance is a JOKE. And stop whining chubby cheeks.
    —————————-

    I have to say, this imposter “EDUCATION FIRST #2” is pretty funny! HAHA.


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