HHSAA Boys Volleyball
Pearl City downs Seabury Hall to triumph in D2 boys volleyball


Sat, May 7, 2022 @ Blaisdell [ 5:00 pm ]

FINAL  1   2   3   4   5      
SEA (8-3) 29 25 21 22 - 1
PC (14-2) 31 22 25 25 - 3
Kill: T. Russell (SEA) 22 kills
Blk: E. Long (PC) 10 blk
Ast: L. Connor (SEA) 59 ast

KAKAAKO — Cinderella wore purple and white Saturday night. 

Pearl City became just the third school from the Oahu Interscholastic Association to win a boys volleyball state championship with its historic four-set win over Seabury Hall. 

A crowd of about 1,000 fans at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena saw the Chargers capture the very first state crown in program history via their 31-29, 22-25, 25-21 and 25-22 win over the Spartans in the title game of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Boys Volleyball State Championships. 

The last time an OIA team won the state championship was more than four decades ago, when Roosevelt won back-to-back-to-back crowns from 1977 to 1979. 

"Wow, that's a crazy stat," Pearl City coach Sean Chang said. 

It was the Chargers' first appearance in the state final since 2002, when they lost to Kamehameha. 

"It's definitely a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment," Chang added. "We're just super excited to be able to bring this back to Pearl City."

The only other OIA school to win was Farrington in 1970 and 1971. 

Pearl City is the first OIA team to win the D2 state tournament since its inception in 2005. 

"Everybody on this team came into this season ready to make history and we worked hard at practice, we worked hard all season and this is the result; I'm just so proud of us," said senior outside hitter Fati Seei-Tofi, who recorded a double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs and was selected as the tournament's most outstanding player. 

The Chargers' go-to pin-hitter started off a bit slow. Seei-Tofi had just two kills on 13 swings with four errors. He went on to record 14 kills in the final three sets. 

Freshman outside hitter Keahi Kaneakua added 15 kills. 

Seei-Tofi and Kaneakua took 50 and 49 swings, respectively, much to the delight of Chang. 

"A lot of people, when they scout us, they think about Fati and so he's always double-blocked, he's always served at, he gets a lot of pressure put on him, so to have Keahi there to relieve that pressure helps Fati a lot — and not that Fati needs it, but it's helpful for him," Chang said. 

The Spartans surged ahead 22-16 in the opening set after a 12-3 run that included two kills, one ace and a block assist all by Thomas Russell. 

A Pearl City service error gave Seabury Hall set point, but Kaneakua found a seam for a kill from the left side to pull his team to within 24-20. The Spartans sandwiched a couple of hitting errors around a net violation to narrow their lead to 24-23. The teams exchanged points until Seabury pulled ahead, 29-28, on a Tyler Russell kill from the left side. 

New City Nissan/HHSAA Division II Boys Volleyball All-Tournament Team
As selected by the HHSAA and working media

Keahi Kaneakua, Pearl City
Thomas Russell, Seabury Hall
Tiandrew Taimanao, Pearl City
Tyler Russell, Seabury Hall
Christian Ronquilio, Pearl City
Tylus Williams, Pearl City 
Most Outstanding Player: Fati Seei-Tofi, Pearl City 

The Chargers pulled even at 29 on a Tiandrew Taimanao kill out on a middle set from Christian Ronquilio. The two hooked up on the very next play to give Pearl City its first lead since 14-13. The back-and-forth first set finally came to an end when a Seabury Hall attack landed out. 

Game 2 featured eight ties and four lead changes, but the Spartans took advantage of several errors by the Chargers down the stretch. They scored five of the final seven points to take the second set and even the match. 

Pearl City pulled back ahead two sets to one after they finished off game 3 with a 3-0 run. In game 4, however, Seabury Hall seemed to have all of the momentum. 

A Tyler Russell solo block gave his team a 21-17 lead, but the Chargers had no intentions of going to a fifth set. 

"I told my guys we can either kind of cool down on this end and throw it away and just try to get to 15 first (in set 5), or we can just give it our all — whatever we got here — and hope for the best and they decided to give it their all and I'm super glad that they did, because we ended up winning," Chang said. 

The game-ending 8-1 run began with a Seabury Hall attack error, followed by a lift call that made the score 21-19. Kaneakua's ensuing serve resulted in an overpass by the Spartans and Seei-Tofi was there to put it away. The Chargers pulled even at 21 one play later with a double-block from Taimanao and Ronquilio. 

"It was like a switch flipped on for us that if we lost this set that we might just lose the next one, so we didn't want to take that chance that it would happen, so we just were ready to (finish) out there," Seei-Tofi said. 

Seei-Tofi put Pearl City ahead for good with his 16th kill of the match, off of an assist from Tyson Keaunui. Seabury Hall put an attack into the next and then was whistled for another lift on the ensuing serve to set-up championship point for the Chargers. After Tyler Russell's kill made it a two-point game, a service error closed out the match. 

Senior libero Tylus Williams recorded 27 digs, including a dozen in the second set alone, and senior setter Christian Ronquilio tallied 37 assists and 19 digs in the win. 

Seabury Hall was led by twin brothers Tyler and Thomas Russell; the seniors combined to take 126 of their team's 189 total swings in the match. Thomas Russell racked up 22 kills and 18 digs and Tyler Russell amassed 20 kills and 26 digs. 

Senior setter Luca Connor distributed 59 assists and Ethan Palmer contributed eight kills and 12 digs and Blaze Potratz chipped in seven kills and seven digs in defeat. 

Pearl City out-blocked Seabury Hall, 14 to 6. 

Seei-Tofi headlined the All-Tournament Team as the Most Outstanding Player. Other Chargers that joined Seei-Tofi on the all-tourney team were Kaneakua, Ronquilio, Williams and Taimanao, along with both Russell brothers from Seabury Hall. 

"I feel like I'm just so proud of this team. I feel like I've gone through wars with them, they're my battle buddies, you know; I'm just so proud of them, we had such a great season."

Pearl City was seeded fourth as the OIA champion in the eight-team tournament and beat Konawaena in five sets Thursday before it posted a four-set upset of top-seeded Saint Louis in Friday's semifinal round. 

The Chargers (14-2) won their final 12 games of the season, while the Spartans (8-3) saw their seven-match win streak come to an end. 

Seabury Hall was seeded third as the champion of the Maui Interscholastic League. It swept past Le Jardin Thursday, then completed a reverse sweep in Friday's five-set win over Nanankuli in the tournament semifinals. 

The Spartans were seeking their second D2 boys volleyball state title and first since 2010, when they defeated Pahoa in four sets in the championship final. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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