Farmers open season with high hopes

Girl's Volleyball travels to Ann Kang Tournament on Oahu

By Dan Murphy

The Molokai High School girl’s volleyball team will officially kick off their 2009 season this week at the Ann Kang Invitational Tournament on Oahu.

“It’s a pretty big tournament. We were pretty lucky to get invited,” head coach Matt Helm said. “I’m very optimistic about our chances. I think we can compete with anybody right now.”

The Ann Kang Invite attracts some of the top high school volleyball teams in the country. This year the tournament features 16 teams – four from California and the rest from Hawaii. This is the third time Molokai has been invited to play.

The Farmers will face off against Mater Dei High School from Santa Ana, Cali. and Punahou High School. Punahou went undefeated in the regular season in 2008 and lost in the state championship game.

Molokai also made it to the state tournament last year after winning the MIL Tournament. They finished fourth overall in the state. This year, Helm said he has big hopes to make it even further.

“I really think we have the potential to bring home a state championship,” he said. “That’s what we’re practicing for.”

This year’s team draws its strength from depth and experience. The Farmers return two four-year players in seniors Wailani Hernandez and Danna-Lynn Hooper-Juario. Helm also said that middle setter Kawena Puhi, who will be running the offense, has taken some major steps forward since last season. Every player is expected to play a vital role for the team this year.  

The girls have yet to discuss their expectations as a group, but this weekend will be a good opportunity to set some goals and build team chemistry. Along with playing against top talent in a high-intensity atmosphere, the team will also get some pointers from the University of Hawaii Wahine team. They will get to watch one of the team’s practices while they are on Oahu.

Warming up
The money to travel and play in the invitational was raised last weekend by a tournament on Molokai. For the fifth year in a row, the high school team hosted a six-team tournament for women born, raised or currently living on Molokai.

The Farmers finished second overall in the tournament and Helm said he was happy with the outcome.

“We are a lot better off than we have been in previous years. It’s a good way to get the community involved and get us ready for the season,” he said.

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