Few teams can top the history of the Punahou High School boys' volleyball team. The Buff n' Blue have won eight straight state championships, bringing their total to 36, and boast alumni like Micah Ma’a, a 2018 AVCA First Team All-American at UCLA, and U.S. Olympic volleyball player Eric Shoji.
The program's biggest problem might be the ever-shrinking available space in the trophy case.
Despite that, head boys' volleyball coach Rick Tune doesn't consider success a given. It’s earned every step of the way. We sat down with Tune to learn more about this illustrious volleyball program that strives to create not only elite athletes on the court, but upstanding men off of it.
“We want kids that want to compete, and that operate their lives with a zest and a zeal.”
Spike, one of the most recognized words in the volleyball dictionary, means something more to the Buffanblu. The acronym is at the forefront of everything they do—sacrifice, passion, integrity, kinship and excellence—and it’s at the core of their success.
“In our program, kids come from all kinds of clubs, and they’re usually the guy, but when they come to Punahou they have to learn to play within their role, and they have to embrace it,” Tune said. “Sacrifice really talks about putting the group first. And then passion means you have to bring more than skill to the court. You can’t just be a good, technical setter. What do you bring to your teammates?"
Integrity and kinship are the two cornerstones of their volleyball program.
“Simply put, what are you doing when no one is looking?" Tune said. "We try to train like that. There’s no cutting corners. A lot of guys don’t know how far they can push themselves, and what they can endure to push through those barriers. So in our training, we do some intense workouts, but they’re not designed to be physically tough, but mentally challenging.
“Our relationships with our players are vital to that. In order to get the most out of them, you have to have a good relationship with them. You have to be a human with them. And when you do all four of those things well, excellence will come. We want not only good volleyball players, but sons and boyfriends, etc. Excellence comes from being the best that you are capable of becoming.”
It's easy to be enamored by the school's overwhelming success, but Tune ensures Punahou remains built on the foundation of doing things the right way.
“Year over year, we focus on the process," Tune said. "We let the product take care of itself, using our philosophy to do that. It just happens to work out for us."
Tune and his staff believe in developing not just superior athletes, but superior students of the game.
“That’s where Hudl comes in," he said. "We want kids who are going to study the game and understand the tactical side of the game, especially when we get in and talk about scouting reports for preparation.”
“I haven’t met anyone who watches as much video as we do. It’s hours of film review."
Tune sets benchmark stats he learned from his time as a Pepperdine assistant and places a high priority on meeting those marks. His most important numbers are scoring percentage and side-out percentage.
“What factors are contributing to those things?" he asked. "There are a multitude of reasons, but having video alongside is absolutely vital. Based on that information, we tailor practices to help improve where needed.
“I haven’t met anyone who watches as much video as we do. It’s hours of film review. Hudl allows me to break it down into little chunks, so if there is something I really want to focus in on, like all of rotation one’s attacks, I have the video and data to do that very easily. It allows me to get a clearer sense of trends and you learn a lot.”
Preparation goes so much further than just the coaching staff. Punahou has made video analysis paramount for their players' development.
“For different position groups, they have different queues for different things—the middle blocker is getting into the mindset of the opposing setter and vice versa as an example—and the game hinges on those things," Tune said. "We spend a lot of time watching video with our players and we find they get a real benefit from it. “As I mentioned before, the best players that I coach are students of the game, so they understand why things are happening the way they are.
"The best players can see the play developing, and they can execute a counter strategy. The quicker they can understand and see that, the better we are.”
"The tools we have now with Hudl are so much easier to use, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort."
Certain players, like former Punahou standout Ma’a, utilize video analysis to reach their full potential.
“Micah was probably one of the best players to come out of Punahou," Tune said. "He set all kinds of records, and he came in with a lot of knowledge about the game. I remember having a conversation with him going into his senior year. He said that even though he came in with such an extensive background in volleyball, watching video and seeing the trends and stats amplified that and took him to another level of play. So I think for any player who wants to maximize their potential, they have to be disciplined enough to look and read and evaluate.
“The tools we have now with Hudl are so much easier to use, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. Hudl gives us some of the same benefits without having the extreme amount of time and commitment it could take. I love Hudl. It’s something that has made me a better coach, and it’s something that can do the same for any other coach and for their team.”
We’re proud to help Punahou continue to develop a successful program through video, and the tools they use are available for anyone. Click here to learn more about our volleyball tools and see how they could improve your program.