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Blair Nonaka - Iolani's Offensive Machine

The state champion Iolani Girls Volleyball team did not have an easy time at the State Tourney.  Even as top seed, the team knew that the competition they were going up against was going to be deep. They weren't going to win it just showing up.  Coming from an early deficit against Punahou, the lady Red Raiders managed to pull off a hard fought victory 5-15, 15-12, 15-11.

For Iolani's Blair Nonaka, this year's state competition will be one that lasts in her mind forever.  At 5'9 and a half, Blair's tall athletic frame complements her quickness and jumping ability. She has been described as having tremendous all-around ability.  Her greatest asset is her leadership qualities and her talent for making her teammates play even better. Blair has been team captain for two years in a row.  Her leadership was tested this year by a very young Iolani team, which started three juniors.

"She is a tremendous athlete, physically & mentally ready to become a division 1 Player.  She has a volleyball body, good strength and is not prone to injury.  She is a very smart player, a leader on the team.  Blair is an offensive machine. She blocks well and has the potential to become a great setter. says her club coach Luis Ramirez.

She's no slouch in the academic department either.  Posting a 3.2 GPA and ranking in the top half of her class is quite a feat, given her rigorous practice schedules and college prep level class course load.

We talked with Blair and found out a little bit more about this 'offensive machine':

Hawaii411: How long have you been playing Volleyball?
Blair: Since the sixth grade... seven years.

Hawaii411: What positions have you played?
Blair: Setter and hitter, and some back row.  I'm torn between playing Outside Hitter and setter (as favorites) because I really like setting, but I like hitting because I get to play back row and also hit the ball.  I think because of my height I'd have better chances in college as a setter.

Hawaii411: Do you play any other sports?
Blair: Track, I do the 100m high-hurdles.

Hawaii411: Do you think there's a career in track for you as well?
Blair: Not really, not at the next level... I just do it because I like it.

Hawaii411: Where does volleyball fall in your life?
Blair: It's the second most important thing besides school.  It takes up so much of my time because I do club volleyball as well.

Hawaii411: What were the highlights of your Volleyball Career?
Blair: The first thing, was last year (her Junior year) when I was chosen as captain and I was a starter, because that was my first real big goal when I started volleyball.  The second would be this year when we won ILH and States.

Hawaii411: Did ever think when you first started playing as a ninth grader that you would be part of the first State Champion Volleyball team at Iolani?
Blair: No, not when I started in ninth grade, but last year we realized that we had that potential with a lot of key returnees this year, while other teams lost key players.

Hawaii411: How far would you like to go with volleyball?
Blair: Playing in college.

Hawaii411: How about coaching?
Blair: Yeah, I really love to coach.  I'm a really good coach, actually.  I don't mean to coach the other players on my team, but I do.  I give them pointers.  I think it holds a bond with other players, where they feel comfortable with me and we help each other out.

Hawaii411: What is your favorite subject in school?
Blair: Physics... with my physics teacher Mr. Heyler.

Hawaii411: Do you plan to pursue Physics as a major in college?
Blair: No, I'm pretty much undecided, but probably something like business or engineering.

Hawaii411: Iolani is known for the "One Team" concept started by the late Father Bray.    What does "One Team" mean to you?
Blair: To me it means that your personal goals are secondary to the team goals.  Using myself as an example, I would much rather have played front and back row this year.  But because it was better for the team, I just played front row, and put my goals aside.  It was for the team.

Hawaii411: Who are your favorite Volleyball players?
Blair: Logan Tom and Robyn Ah Mow.

Hawaii411: Who would you like to thank for helping you along?
Blair: My parents because I did Volleyball and Gymnastics, which was really time consuming, and they sacrificed a lot of personal time to make sure I got what wanted and needed.  They always came to every game in every sport.  My Grandparents came to all of my Volleyball games and supported me.  Coach Chris Blake told me a lot during my school season to keep me on track and improve my skills.  Coach Luis Ramirez believed in me and was confident in my potential.  He helped me improve a lot.

Hawaii411: Could you sum up your life philosophy?
Blair: The story of my athletic life is perseverance.  I was never a star athlete, so I always had to persevere and work my way up and earn a spot (into the starting line-up).  Another thing is, just go for it because you have nothing to lose.

Hawaii411 conclusion:  There are many characteristics that stand out athletes share.  Natural talent, excellent leadership and a drive to excel are qualities that Blair has consistently demonstrated throughout her athletic career.  The results of her hard work certainly showed on the court this year, as she helped lead Iolani to it's first Volleyball State Championship ever.  Great job Blair, and a big Hawaii411.com congrats to you and the rest of the Red Raider Volleyball team.  Good luck at college... All of Hawaii will be watching your progress.

This just out - Blair was just recently chosen as an ILH Second Team All-Star!

Statistical Information and Coaches Quotes provided by Hawaii Sports Network.  Please visit their website.

If you know a standout Hawaii Athlete and would like to feature him/her on Hawaii411.com, please email prospects@hawaii411.com to schedule an interview.