Michael Lasquero | ScoringLive
September 25, 2018, 10:03pm
Female Athlete of the Week: Olivia Transfiguracion, Kapolei girls volleyball
With new faces at every hitting position in the lineup, the Kapolei girls volleyball team has had its share of roller-coaster moments during the 2018 season.
But with every thrill ride, there's a steady track that keeps the passengers on board through the ups and downs.
For the Hurricanes, that comes in the form of senior setter Olivia Transfiguracion.
The 5-foot-7 four-year varsity player was key in wins over Aiea and Waianae last week as Kapolei bounced back from its first loss of the season to pull into second place in the OIA Division I West standings.
Transfiguracion, the reigning OIA West Player of the Year, had 22 assists with three kills, two blocks and two aces in a 25-14, 25-9 sweep over Na Alii. Two days later against the Seariders, she recorded a season-high 30 assists with 12 digs in an exhilarating 25-22, 19-25, 16-14 victory.
Even though all of the hitters in the lineup are new to the varsity level, Kapolei coach Naidah Gamurot said that Transfiguracion has never had an issue with connecting with others on the court.
"From the very first day of ninth grade when she walked on the court, she had chemistry with everybody," Gamurot said. "It was kind of instant, everyone kind of took to her."
While building relationships with her teammates is second nature to Transfiguracion, working with this year's group has been a test of patience with many new players getting adjusted to the speed of varsity volleyball.
As a result, Transfiguracion has had to set balls higher to give her teammates time to get to the ball to attempt a decent attack. In the match against Waianae, she made adjustments to her sets to help the Hurricanes reduce their hitting errors after committing 10 in the opening game.
"I had to set it more off and I had to give them a little bit more arc to give them time to approach and look at the block," she said after the win last Thursday.
Gamurot added that Transfiguracion's humility has helped the younger players progress in their development.
"Liv being humble like that is a really good example for the other girls," said Gamurot. "She's always trying to get better and better, and yet she's the best player out there. The girls listen to her as she asks questions on things and how to do things right."
One of the young players that has improved exponentially since the start of the season is freshman Alizaysha "Toodie" Sopi. The 5-foot-11 Sopi, who started off as a middle blocker before moving to the outside, reached double-digit kills for the first time with 10 against Aiea. She then set a new career-high with 16 against the Seariders.
"It was kind of hard early on because she was a middle at first so we had to get her timing right, we had to keep reminding her to wait for the set, but in practice she's just getting better and better and she's playing more smart," Transfiguracion said of Sopi.
Gamurot said Transfiguracion and Sopi have a "symbiotic relationship.
"She knows where to put the ball for Toodie and she'll tell her what to look for because Liv can read the opponent's block, and she's able to tell (the hitters) what's going on. Her and Toodie are connecting on that."
The start of the season may have been frustrating for the Hurricanes, but Transfiguracion has high hopes for the rest of the year.
"We're progressing really good in practice, faster than we kind of expected so I actually think we're going to go pretty far for being a young team," she said. "I think we're actually going to do really good."
Transfiguracion and the Hurricanes swept Campbell on Tuesday, 25-21, 25-13, to improve to 7-1. They host Leilehua Thursday.
Male Athlete of the Week: Zion Williams, McKinley football
Zion Williams has been a welcome addition to the McKinley football team.
The 5-foot-8, 145-pound junior cornerback scored on a kickoff return and a interception to help the Tigers snap a five-game losing streak with a 28-24 win over PAC-5 last Saturday at Roosevelt's Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.
The victory was monumental for McKinley as wins have come at a premium in recent years. The Tigers endured a 29-game losing streak during the middle of the decade before getting a win against Waialua in 2017. Not only was the win McKinley's third in two years, but it was also the Tigers' first victory over an ILH opponent since 2005.
"That was a nice win for us," said second-year McKinley coach Pat Silva, a 1975 graduate of the school. "PAC-5 has been playing well battling different teams. For us to get that win, that helped our morale, especially with our kids after starting the season with a win then going through that losing streak."
Williams, who joined the team after the Tigers' season-opening win over King Kekaulike, was the spark plug that got McKinley going against the Wolfpack.
After PAC-5 scored on its first drive of the contest, Williams returned the ensuing kickoff for an 86-yard score. He later had a 32-yard pick-six to give the Tigers a 12-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
McKinley (2-5 overall, 0-4 league) then carried the momentum into the next period to take a 22-7 lead at the end of the first half.
"It's been refreshing for us, program wise to be able to have someone like Zion show up at your doorstep, and his contribution has been fantastic this season," Silva said of Williams, who spent some time in Georgia and Kauai before transferring to McKinley.
Williams' special teams touchdown was a result of the game plan of coordinator Nobu Nishimura, an exchange professor from Japan teaching at the University of Hawaii.
After Evan Ramirez scored on a 5-yard run to give PAC-5 a 7-0 lead, McKinley's Jordon Kanakanui received the ensuing kickoff and worked his way up the field. With the Wolfpack's coverage team focused on him, Kanakanui then lateraled the ball to a Williams, who found a lane to the end zone.
"Their kickoff personnel was focused on the ball carrier, and when he he started working up the field, that left an opening to the far side of the field. Zion was able to catch the ball and run up the field and get by only the kicker," said Silva.
Williams' pick-six was even more noteworthy as it required athleticism and technique.
"Zion has been making plays for us, he just reads the coverage," Silva said. "PAC-5 has a tendency to flood areas where they'll put two receivers near one spot. Zion was able to get in a position to where he would be able to react to either one.
When the quarterback made the decision to go to the underneath receiver, Zion was able to read and react and he did a helluva of a job picking it off and returning it to give us the momentum again."
Silva described Williams as a hard worker that lets his actions speak for himself.
"He doesn't bang a big stick at all. He comes to practice, he works like everyone else.
"Over the years that I've coached, we've coached what we call 'gamers,' kids in practice that kind of just fit in and goes through the process, but when the lights come on, they step up their play and Zion fits that mold. When it's game time, he moves to another level. It's been exciting to watch him play the game, knowing the kind of person he is. He's quiet, but he's very responsible."
It's a responsibility that extends past the gridiron. The Tigers finish practice at 6:30 p.m., but Williams leaves 45 minutes early on some nights to work at a Japanese restaurant to help support his family.
"I give these kids credit," Silva said. "Our athletic director Bob Morikuni saw him working one time and Bob came away impressed after they chatted.
"Zion is a very respectful person, just the kind of kid that you want to have around."
Williams and the Tigers will look to continue their winning ways when they face Roosevelt Friday night.
Tre Barrett, Moanalua — Made 7 1/2 tackles, four for loss, with two sacks and forced a fumble while recovering another in a win over Damien
Fabian Bautista, Aiea — Made a season-high 10 receptions for 101 yards in a loss to Leilehua
Kayson Castillo, Aiea — Threw for a season-high 380 yards with three scores in a loss to Leilehua
Matt Fiesta, Waipahu — Made six receptions for a season-high 150 yards with one score in a win over Nanakuli
Dillon Gabriel, Mililani — Threw for 362 yards and five scores in a win over Waianae
Nicholas Herbig, Saint Louis — Scored on a 37-yard interception return in a win over Kapolei
Kai Hoekstra, Waialua — Caught eight passes for a season-high 172 yards with two scores in a loss to Kaiser
Zacharia Kalahiki-Basque, Aiea — Recorded a season-high 12 receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown in a loss to Leilehua
Carter Kamana, Iolani — Caught seven passes for 121 yards and two scores in a win over Radford
Deacon Kapea, Waipahu — Ran for two scores and scored on a 17-yard interception return in a win over Nanakuli
Shepherd Kekahuna, Saint Francis — Recorded two interceptions in a win over Kaimuki
Keanu Kekawa, Moanalua — Made two interceptions and scored on a 41-yard return in a win over Damien
Buffalo Kruize III, Moanalua — Had three sacks in a win over Damien
Warren Lagaaia, Leilehua — Picked off three passes and broke up another in a win over Aiea
Sione Lolohea, Saint Francis — Made five tackles for loss with three sacks and recovered a fumble in a win over Kaimuki
Cody Marques, Waipahu — Threw for a season-high 312 yards with one score on 20 of 25 passing in a win over Nanakuli
James McGary, Leilehua — Scored on a 90-yard kickoff return and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in a win over Aiea
Kyler Mento, Iolani — Picked off two passes and scored on a 37-yard interception return in a win over Radford
Max Nichols, Leilehua — Completed 23 of 35 passes for 245 yards and four scores in a win over Aiea
Casey Nguyen, Kaiser — Completed 6 of 6 passes for 95 yards and three scores in a win over Waialua
Manuele, Pulusila — Made seven tackles, four for loss, forced a fumble and broke up two passes in a win over Nanakuli
Senituli Punivai, Castle — Rushed 29 time for 241 yards and three scores in a win over Kailua
Branson Jay Reyes, KS-Maui — Scored on a 75-yard punt return in a win over Nanakuli
Alec Serrao, Kamehameha — Ran for a season-high 137 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season in a win over Farrington
Christian Sison, Moanalua — Picked off two passes in a win over Damien
De'Zhaun Stribling, Kapolei — Caught seven passes for a season-high 178 yards in a loss to Saint Louis
Akoni Tom-Makue, Leilehua — Kicked two field goals and four PATs in a win over Aiea
LJ Vongsy, Aiea — Made a game-high eight tackles, two for loss, in a loss to Leilehua
Junior Wily, Saint Louis — Scored on a 20-yard interception return in a win over Kapolei
Mason Yoshino, Kaiser — Caught six passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Waialua
Teana Adams-Kaonohi, Punahou — Dished out 20 assists with eight digs, four blocks, three kills and two aces in a loss to Iolani
Bailey Darnell, Radford — Put down 14 kills with two solo blocks and an ace in a loss to Nanakuli
Ellie Diersbock, Le Jardin — Had 13 kills in a win over Saint Francis
Vanessa Colling, Roosevelt — Had six kills, two assists and 11 digs in a win over Kailua and had 12 kills in a loss to Kahuku
Alohilani Keola, Leilehua — Recorded 11 assists with six aces, six kills and two solo blocks in a win over Waialua
Elena Oglivie, Iolani — Recorded 16 kills with eight digs in a win over Punahou
Cheylah Marfil, Nanakuli — Had a double-double of 19 assists and 15 digs with five kills and four aces in a win over Pearl City
Kristen McDaniel, Iolani — Dished out 35 assists with seven digs and five kills in a win over Punahou
Aysia Miller, Mililani — Had 19 assists with five kills and four digs in a win over Leilehua and had 20 assists and four kills in a win over Aiea
Lauren Pau-De Santos, Roosevelt — Had 11 digs with six kills and three blocks in a win over Kailua
Alizaysha "Toodie" Sopi, Kapolei — Put down 10 kills in a win over Aiea and had 16 kills in a win over Waianae
Tiana Thompson, Roosevelt — Had 15 assists and two aces in a win over Kailua
Nive Tuileta, Le Jardin — Had 12 assists, seven digs and six kills in a win over Saint Francis