Open Mic
WatchList 2020-21: Mich's list




There is much to look forward to in the upcoming school year — so instead of writing about players in a specific sport, I decided to highlight one player from a number of different sports that you should keep your eye on next season.

 

Alizaysha "Toodie" Sopi, class of 2022, Kapolei girls volleyball

Kapolei outside hitter Toodie Sopi has all of the physical assets to be a dominant force next season.

Standing at 5-foot-11, Sopi was the tallest girl for the Hurricanes last year as she also led the team in kills with 163 kills in 16 matches.

"Physically she's got a lot of potential," said Kapolei coach Naidah Gamurot. "She's got big ole' long arms, which gives her really good levers for hitting."

Sopi has come a long way since joining the varsity lineup as a freshman, Gamurot said. The soon-to-be-junior didn't have much experience playing on the outside, but moved over from playing middle due to injuries in the 2018 season. Since then, Sopi has grown to become a six-rotation player that can play any front court position while playing solid defense in the back row.

Gamurot added that Sopi's versatility is boosted by her ability to dissect what is going on the other side of the net.

"Toodie tends to put her body in the right place, and she's got a really nice hit from the back row. She's also a good blocker. I really like to put her on the right side since she's got a big block and she can read the hitters really well."

Sopi also started to display leadership skills towards the end of her sophomore season, Gamurot said.

"She started to speak up more. She was doing a good job and I expect that to continue on to this year."

With Third Team All-Hawaii setter Alexis Kepa and a bunch of other underclassmen returning, expect Sopi and the Hurricanes to make some noise in the upcoming season.

 

Anuhea "Anu" Aluli, class of 2022, Kamehameha girls soccer

Kamehameha's Anuhea Aluli is one of those players that plays bigger than her stature.

Listed at 5-foot-4, Aluli led the championship-winning Warriors in goals scored with 10 on the season.

"She just finished her sophomore year, but honestly she plays like she's a senior," said Kamehameha coach Melissa Moore. She plays bigger than she is and she's strong, she's fast and she's got great skill."

She also scored a number of clutch goals, which included one in a key ILH contest against Punahou and the lone goal in Kamehameha's championship win over Kekaulike.

"She's always consistent with her play," said Moore. "In the games where there's pressure, Anu will rise and she's done that multiple times for us. That's just her competitive spirit. That goal in the final of states was just an amazing goal."

While Aluli has the ability to put the ball in the back of the net, Moore noted that Aluli's biggest strength is her ability to move without the ball.

"She's always looking to combine with her teammates as much as she can," Moore said of Aluli, who also notched a number of assists during the season. "She has great skill and good size, but I think her movement off the ball is what makes her a better player."

Moore added that Aluli also has a superb work ethic.

"I absolutely love coaching her. She works hard in everything that she does. I never have to ask her to work hard. In every training, she's totally going for it 100 percent effort, never complains and just does the work. She has one of the best attitudes that I've ever coached."

Aluli and the Warriors will try for their third straight Division-I state title when the sports season resumes.

 

Sebastian "Sebi" Horn, class of 2021, Kaiser boys soccer

Kaiser's Sebi Horn is a perfect ten.

Not only does he wear No. 10 for the Cougars' soccer team, but he also plays the role of attacking midfielder — which can also be called a team's "number 10" for those familiar with soccer lingo.

To put it on simpler terms, Horn is a playmaker on the field.

"He can distribute the ball, he's a great passer. He has great vision, very unselfish player and he makes key goals for us," Kaiser coach Layne Abalos said of Horn.

Horn didn't lead the team in scoring, but does an exceptional job all season setting up forwards like Kyler Halvorsen (14 goals,) Ian Ngonethong (11 goals) and Lucas Shearer (nine goals).

"He makes things happen," said Abalos. "Everybody sees the end result of a goal in soccer, but the goal goes through somebody. Sebi is like the point guard so to speak. In order for the guy to score, someone has to get him the ball."

This past season the Cougars went through league play without a loss and finished atop the OIA Division-I East standings. That would not be possible without Horn's clutch play in the final week of the regular season.

Horn accounted for the lone goal in the Cougars' penultimate match of the regular season against Kailua and drew a PK (that was converted) and notched a goal against previously unbeaten Kalaheo in a 2-0 win to close out league play.

Abalos also spoke highly of Horn's selflessness and even mentioned a time in preseason when Horn wanted to play in the defensive backline when a starting centerback was feeling ill.

"I wish I had 10 players like him. He's the definition of a soccer player. He can do it all. That's the commitment you can see from him. He's willing to do whatever it takes for the team to win."

With the graduation of a few key defensive players, which includes All-OIA East midfielder Tytan Yamanaka, Abalos said the Cougars may have to tinker with a different formation in the upcoming season.

The modifications ultimately will allow Horn to showcase his playmaking ability even more.

"Sebi will have more weapons to chose from," Abalos said.

 

Jayda Favela, class of 2021, Campbell softball

Jayda Favela is the spark plug of the Campbell softball team.

The Sabers' shortstop is a triple threat at the plate, has good range defensively and is a nightmare for opposing teams when she gets on base.

As the leadoff batter for the team, Favela's speed is a tool that helps the team generate runs on a consistent basis.

"She's one of those players that when she gets on base, it gives our team a lot of confidence knowing that we can score one run in each inning that she's on base," said Campbell coach Michael "Shag" Hermosura.

While Favela's agility and quickness is something that can be measured in the amount of bases stolen or runs scored, her ability to lead effectively is something that can't be quantified.

"She has a lot of heart and she has a lot of love for softball," said Hermosura. "She was a little intimidated at the beginning, but she q quickly grew out of that and became more of a leader than a follower.

"She has a lot of knowledge and a lot of the other girls look up to her. She always shows good leadership. In workout sessions, she's always helping the underclassmen — and the underclassmen they respect her and they listen. She's made a good impact on me as a head coach and my coaching staff and the players."

Before the coronavirus outbreak cut the season short, Favela was able to garner three hits and three runs in three games. Her biggest showing came in the final game of the season — a 4-0 win over Kapolei Charter — when she went 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored.

 

Bronson Rivera, class of 2021, Konawaena baseball

In the Konawaena Wildcats' final game of the abbreviated season, Bronson Rivera showcased his versatility.

Rivera, who has been on the varsity team since his freshman year, scored a run and tossed five strikeouts in two innings to pick up the save in a 3-0 win over Honokaa.

First-year coach Aaron Mori, a longtime assistant, spoke glowingly of Rivera's performance on the mound that day.

"That was probably the hardest I've seen him throw in the last three years. He has a nice fast ball, pretty consistent around the strike zone."

Prior to the 2020 season, Rivera batted 0.400 and led the team in hits with 26 during his sophomore year as the primary shortstop.

"His pitch selection is awesome. He probably would have done really good this year," said Mori.

Rivera's prowess at the plate isn't something that just came overnight, Mori added.

"He really matured a lot. His work ethic during practice is good. He's a great kid, listens, does what we ask, and he puts in the extra work."

With Rivera and catcher/outfielder Drew Basque coming back next year, Mori is looking to push for the BIIF title and to make some noise in the state tournament as the Wildcats graduate just one senior in pitcher Jaimison Medeiros. 



Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].


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