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Volleyball weekend sets up history

October 3, 2011 - Robert Collias
The Maui (County) Fair arrived at the right time for volleyball — no MIL football last week allowed us to cover the history happening in Pukalani.

The Kamehameha Schools Maui girls volleyball team is about to break a record that has stood for 18 years — Maui High's 50-match MIL win streak that was set when the league played at one level, when the Sabers made two trips to the state final four in their 1989-93 run, before Saber setter Sheryl Hoopii played for two NAIA champions at BYU-Hawaii, and before Donald Kealoha became Kamehameha Maui's first girls volleyball coach. It was an all-sports-MIL record until the Lahainaluna girls basketball team broke it last season — the Lunas' streak currently sits at 59.

Kealoha and Hoopii led those Maui High teams to unheard-of heights for MIL volleyball in the state tournament and rankings, and really, in my mind, set the stage for the rise of volleyball programs in Olinda, Hoolehua, Hana, Pukalani (King K and KSM), Kahului and Wailuku, for boys and girls.

I vividly remember 5:30 a.m. calls to Kealoha at the Maui Farmers Exchange, where he got to work before I did in the days of The Maui News being an afternoon paper. I covered matches the night before and Kealoha would often not be very vivacious in post-match interviews — or choose not to talk at all immediately after matches, just his style — and I sometimes found I got better quotes out of him nine or 10 hours later on the phone. I can still hear the nice lady who answered the phone — before I could get "Is Donald Kealoha in?" all the way out of my mouth — say, pretty loudly, "Donald, The Maui News guy is on the phone for you!"

This streak is not the same as in those early days of my career here — that was long before Division II play (where most of the best volleyball programs in the MIL exist) and even longer before the league split into division-only matches (at least for counting purposes). Indeed, D-II state champion Molokai has beaten Kamehameha at least three times during this streak in non-MIL matches, but the Warriors' accomplishment is noteworthy nonetheless. It is five years long and has been built by a very young school with some impressive athletes along the way.

A quote that got trimmed for space reasons from my story on No. 49, Saturday over Baldwin, shows that not only does Kamehameha coach Bala Spencer know all about both Kealoha and Hoopii (now Sheryl Paschoal) pretty well, it shows that he realizes this is something special and not built by one team:

Spencer said of his current team, "The streak wasn’t in their plans, wasn’t in their goals at the start of the season, but now that it is here, they don’t want to disappoint the Dre Shaws, the Kelsey Awais, the Teilissa Tuas, the Sage and Cymbree DeCostas, all of whom went on to the next level. They just want to keep this alive.”

We will be there Tuesday for the Warriors' shot at No. 50 at Lahainaluna and Thursday when the Sabers visit Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym as the record-breaker could arrive.

It would be a special gesture for the powers that be at KSM to do their best to make sure Hoopii and Kealoha are in the stands and recognized for their remarkable accomplishment and contributions to MIL volleyball on that night. They are both quite accessible and it is simply the right thing to do. It is Kamehameha's "Dig Pink" night to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer, too.

All of this record analysis started thanks to our newest sports staffer Lehia Apana and her feature on the Warriors from Thursday's paper.

Here is my story on No. 48. And No. 49.

In between, I covered a great match at the Erdman Athletic Center between Seabury Hall and Molokai. And, don't look now, but all of a sudden, Molokai graduate Kalei Adolpho is tearing it up as a starter for the Rainbow Wahine.

 
 

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