There were no flurries by the feisty Castle Knights this time.
Seabury Hall saw to it, enforcing a permanent wall at the net from start to finish for a surprisingly easy 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 sweep of previously unbeaten Castle last night in the semifinals of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball State Championships (Division II) at McKinley Student Council Gym.
A talented team with some youthful tendencies through the season, the Spartans looked every bit the title contender against the Knights.
"We’re not last year’s team. We’re going to do great things of our own," senior Conner Snow said of the defending state champions.
Seabury Hall (14-1), the No. 2 seed, will meet the Hawaii Baptist-Kohala winner tonight at McKinley for the state crown.
Rocky DeLyon, a 6-foot-2 junior led the Spartans with 11 kills and two blocks, and Snow tallied eight kills and three blocks. Alex Wright, one of the key contributors at the net defensively, added seven kills and an ace.
Senior Charlie Hendrix led Castle with seven kills, an ace and a block. Kasson Carter added five kills.
"Our guys followed the game plan and laid it out all night," Snow said. "Getting touches was really game. Castle tried to tool us, but our guys did great. That first touch is really important. It sets up the offense. Guys like David Dunn came out and did the job against Castle guys who had strong swings."
Castle (16-1) came into the match as the No. 3 seed, riding momentum from an Oahu Interscholastic Association title and an opening-round win over Hawaii Prep. Their emotional, intense brand of ball could’ve rattled a relatively young Seabury Hall team, but the champions from the Maui Interscholastic League refused to be flustered.
"I feel glad that we’re playing another day," Seabury Hall coach Caleb Palmer said. "We just wanted to play our game. If we take care of our side of the court, we feel we can compete. We played smart, we played real hard defensively and got a lot of touches that sometimes we don’t get."
Palmer credited unsung heroes Dunn and Alex Wright.
"They all committed defensively and got touches. Sometimes that’s hard to achieve, but we did it," Palmer added. "Castle’s got guys that can hit, serve tough. We had to pass the ball and keep our errors to a minimum. We know they’re a real emotional and and they can play amazing volleyball and go on runs.
"I like our chances offensively all the time. It’s the defensive side, I love to see us play great defense."
Hawaii Baptist 3, Kohala 1
When their block was there, the Kohala Cowboys showed their counterparts the possibility of an upset.
Instead, HBA stuck to its guns — Michael Fisher and Kyle Barretta — and wore down the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champs for a tough 25-22, 26-28, 25-23, 25-16 win.
"I feel relieved. That’s a really good Kohala team," HBA coach Teoni Obrey said. "They moved D.J. Wong to the right back from the left front, so they matched up their big hitter against our smaller blockers. We watched film for 45 minutes, but that didn’t really prepare us for their athleticism."
Fisher, a 6-6 sophomore, and Barretta, a 6-4 junior, amassed 25 kills apiece to lead HBA (15-3), the top seed. It was a big step forward for HBA, which was upset in last year’s semifinal by Pahoa. HBA overhit many times in the first two sets, but settled down.
"They’re way more athletic than us, but we played every point the same, tried to keep the fire going," Fisher said. "We just tried to keep swinging and be consistent. Everyone wants that state title, so the adrenaline’s going."
Donald Wong Jr., a 6-1 junior, led a spirited Kohala (16-1) attack with 20 kills.
"The little things is why we lost, but I love my team. The season’s not over. We’ve got one more win to go for tomorrow," said Wong, one of the most agile, athletic athletes in the state.
Hawaii Prep 2, Lanakila Baptist 0
Jevin Ching and Kyle Katase both had eight kills as Ka Makani (11-6) overwhelmed the Warriors (11-10), 25-17, 25-12. Chad Adachi led Lanakila Baptist with eight kills.
Kahuku 2, Waimea 1
Shairone Thompson had 17 kills, including eight in the third set, as the Red Raiders (13-6) beat the Menehunes (9-6) 20-25, 25-23, 16-14. Kevin Killerman had nine kills for Waimea.