Every summer Coach Dan Glenn brings his Newport Harbor High girls' volleyball team to Hawaii for a tournament. It is a perfect time to start the upcoming season with good competition, team bonding and most importantly, life lessons, which Coach Glenn strongly stresses.
The tournament is on the island of Oahu and is played at 'Iolani High. The Ann Kang annual tournament is named for a former University of Hawaii player and 'Iolani coach named Ann Goldstein Kangaroo, who passed away over 10 years ago from ALS, which is also know as Lou Gehrig's disease. Last summer, Newport lost in the final to an excellent high school team from Taiwan.
After arriving late on Monday night and waiting for the rental vans (which is a common problem when traveling with a team), the team settled at their Waikiki hotel and the girls were exhausted. Two of Hawaii's best high school teams do not play in the Ann Kang so Glenn always schedules a scrimmage with Punahou and Kamehameha to assure that his team plays each of the best on the island. The problem is that the Newport girls must play on Tuesday morning at 9 which is actually 6 back in Newport.
Punahou is one of the most outstanding high schools in the United States. Sports Illustrated recently ranked it as the most outstanding athletic high school in America and the volleyball tradition, both boys and girls, is tremendous. By the way, our president attended Punahou. It is an amazing school that is rich with Hawaiian tradition from the 1800's.
Newport has a senior-laden team led by a number of returning starters, many of whom are seniors. Seniors Cinnamon Sary, Kasey Thompson, Tatum Norton, Biz Buckingham as well as juniors Torey Thompson and Hunter Jennings were all starters on last year's successful team. Returning from injuries are seniors Alex Holbrook and Claire Castillo and both are major college prospects. Rapidly developing sophomore Carol Bockrath, will be a major contributor this season also.
Newport battled Punahou and, after giving up the first set, won the last three sets. After the match, the Punahou girls hosted Newport for some juice and pupus.
The afternoon took Newport to Kamehameha High. Created by the Bishop Estate to enhance the educational opportunities for the Hawaiian people, each student must be part Hawaiian to attend Kamehameha. The campus is the most unbelievable high school campus that I have ever seen. With students from kindergarten to 12th grade including boarders from the outer islands, the facilities rival many college campuses. While noticeably exhausted from the schedule, Newport appeared to outplay Kampehameha although no score was kept.
Wednesday was the day of the annual North Shore trip to jump off of the Waimea rock, swim with the sea turtles, and enjoy Matsumoto's shave ice. Coach Glenn feels strongly that these excursions are a major part of the trip as these young people enjoy different experiences.
I first met Alan Lau in 1977 when our Balboa Bay Volleyball Club played his Outrigger Canoe Club team at the Junior Olympics in Illinois. He was a setter for Punahou and would go to UCSB to play. I was at UCSB where Alan met Dan Glenn and they became close friends. Alan would later help host our Newport Harbor boys' team on a trip to Hawaii to play Punahou in the summer of 1978.
Each year, when Coach Glenn brings his team to Hawaii, Alan Lau and his family host the team with a dinner at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Alan, who is an accomplished attorney in Honolulu, has two volleyball playing children, Davis and Julia. Julia is a junior libero at Punahou, while Davis is a developing young player.
Wednesday night is the dinner at OCC which is always a wonderful experience for the girls. To see the Ohana spirit for which the Hawaiian culture is famous is strengthened by Alan's family and all of the Outrigger family that always welcomes Dan Glenn and his teams.
Speaking of the Outrigger Ohana, on Aug. 6, the club hosts a junior volleyball tournament on its courts at the club. To see the number of outstanding young keikis (boys and girls) playing at such a high level, is awesome. Newport's Cole and Blake Pender who always spend their Augusts at the Colony Surf which is next to the Outrigger, were entered in the tournament. Battling through pool play and playoffs, the Penders finished third.
The tournament started on Thursday at 'Iolani High. Newport beat Memorial (from Texas), Kaiser (a local Oahu team), and Santa Monica all in two games. Coach Dan Glenn used his usual plethora of different lineups. Each player played with great intensity. Alex Holbrook and Claire Castillo played better than ever which is exciting.
Friday's pool included two local teams, Mid Pac and Mary Knoll. Newport again won each match in two. Playing with great intensity as well as the continual fast pace that Newport is famous for, each player contributed at a high level. The outside attacking from Sary, Kasey Thompson, and Castillo coupled by the middle attack and block from Bockrath were enable and triggered by the passing from Jennings, Norton and Buckingham and the setting from Torey Thompson.
Saturday morning quarterfinal matches Newport and long-time rival Mira Costa. Edison and Mater Dei remain undefeated. If each team wins, the semifinal will be a Sunset League matchup with Edison followed by the winner playing the Mater Dei-'Iolani winner.
Mater Dei features many local Newport players. Jordan Alessi sets for the Monarchs, while Maddie Frome is an outstanding outside hitter. Erica Muller starts on a middle blocking position, while Erin Cavanaugh is recovering from illness and should be a major contributor before she graduates.
Hawaii is the start for the Newport Harbor girls. The play looks so promising, but the life experiences from this trip are the true value of the trip.
Each Hawaii trip, Dan Glenn brings two of his children. It allows his team to be part of his true family in their care for these two. This year, the youngest, Tegan and Brogan, are traveling and learning from this experience.