LAHAINA - For the Lahainaluna High School girls volleyball team, the 2012 season will be a unique blending of the past with leadership at the top of the coaching staff and a charge of underclassmen filling the roster under the veteran seniors.
Lei Nakamura, who has guided the Lady Luna softball team to the top of the Maui Interscholastic League, will add to an already busy schedule and move from the diamond to the hardcourt to assume the leadership of the wahine volleyball program this fall.
Coach Lei will team up with her sister, Lisa Kan Hai, who was the Lady Lunas' volleyball coach in 1997, in guiding the team this year. Returning to the staff as well are Rochelle Lanoza, Tita Uwekoolani, Ikiaika Vasquez, Joe Keanini and Justin Balingit.
“Up to this point, we’ve seen that this is a very talented and athletic group. They all bring something to the team, and they work hard every day,” said Lisa Kan Hai.
The Lady Luna leadership core will be led by senior returnees Trisha Kama, Jessica Wallace, Mehana Chang, Lyla Kaniho Talaroc, Leslie Mina, Shelby Uwekoolani, Iomine Maitinnara, Kiana Pali-Prepose, Kanoelani Delatori and Duena Kalilikane. An experienced group of juniors will add even more team solidarity; they are Shaina Arvizu, Kawena Murray, Hanna Sophia Pasco Dusenberry, Kalena Shim, Lithe Pokipala Waiohu and Kimberly Yap.
Lahainaluna finished the 2011 season with a 4-8 record and looks to move up the MIL ladder in the current campaign.
"We started practice earlier this month with a big turnout of about 35 girls," said Coach Kan Hai last week from the floor of the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on campus. "We have new ones coming out at every practice and at one time had 51 players signed up. We'll run the program as one with the varsity and junior varsity working together to bring continuity for now and for the future."
Kan Hai went on to say that practices have focused on agility drills, speed and quickness, and especially passing.
"The practices have been amazing, and the important thing we have seen is that these very talented girls bring so much heart and determination to practice," she said.
The sophomores on the roster are Hoalani Arriaga, Kirmala Balanay, Vernalynn Bandayrel, Tobi Bonifacio, Angel Cuaresma, Jorielle Diaz, Naioka Fangupo, Faavai Galoia, Kahakumele Hamakua, Ko-ihi Kalilikane, Patricia Nebrida, Ceidilee Nobriga, Kaile Stockham, Mharizar Tam and Betty Tupou Koloi. The freshmen group includes Cheleigh Clarabal, August Guest, Janie Hoopai, Ryah "Coke Float" Kaniho, Keleah Koloi, Leah Marie Mina and Haylee Patch.
Pre-season tournaments for MIL teams began last week, and the regular season tipoff is scheduled for Sept. 13. The post-season tournament is set for Oct. 25-27 at a site to be determined. The state championship playoffs take place in Honolulu from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.