BIIF girls volleyball: Kamehameha’s Ahuna repeats as D-I top player

Kaiulani Ahuna closes her Big Island Interscholastic Federation volleyball career with another top honor, and a legacy as Kamehameha’s most accomplished player.

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Kaiulani Ahuna closes her Big Island Interscholastic Federation volleyball career with another top honor, and a legacy as Kamehameha’s most accomplished player.

The 5-foot-8½-inch senior outside hitter repeated as the BIIF Division I Player of the Year, in a vote by the league’s coaches.

In a nod to team accomplishment, the other starting Warriors also received recognition.

Senior hitter Zoe Leonard, senior libero Harley Woolsey and junior setter Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker also made the All-BIIF first team while senior middle blockers Jeyci Kaili and Pua Wong, and senior right-side hitter Maraea O’Connor got honorable mention.

Wong was honored at opposite, but she played middle for Kamehameha, the five-time defending BIIF champion.

Ahuna, Leonard and Woolsey were all freshman starters. Ahuna not only has four BIIF titles and two POY awards, but also competed on the USA Volleyball women’s junior A1 team, along with Leonard. No one else in school history matches that amount of accolades.

“She was an outstanding hitter, great defender, passer and outstanding athlete,” Kamehameha coach Sam Thomas said. “She did everything for our team. The other kids relied on her, leaned on her, not only in games, but practices, too.”

Thomas was in his first year as coach. But he’s been a boys Kamehameha assistant for a long time, and in the close-knit local volleyball community everybody knows everybody.

He’s watched Ahuna blossom in her final season, not so much as a volleyball player because her skill-set is refined, but more with her lead-by-example quiet way.

“I’ve noticed she was more vocal this season,” Thomas said. “She’s kind of shy, and everybody tried to get her out of her shell. She’s a quiet leader, and was a vocal leader in a positive way.”

Ahuna is also unprecedented in another way. Unless another Warrior has a 31 ½-inch vertical, she’ll be the only one in school history under 5-9 to sign a Division I scholarship as an outside hitter. She’ll major in kinesiology at Eastern Washington.

Ahuna is a three-time All-BIIF first-team selection while Leonard and Woolsey are repeat picks. Makekau-Whittaker was an honorable mention last season.

She was on the USA Volleyball girls youth A1 team over the summer. Makekau-Whittaker gave a verbal commitment to Cal State Northridge, which plays in the Big West, the same conference as the University of Hawaii.

Thomas had high praise for his other All-BIIF first-team picks.

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“Harley was a vacuum cleaner. She dug up everything. She’s a super tough kid, and has a perfect mentality for a libero,” he said. “Zoe did well at outside hitter, even though that’s not her position. For the A1 team, she was a libero. But she did what needed to be done for the betterment of the team. Kudos to her for that.

“Kamalu, in my opinion, is the best setter in the state of Hawaii. She does a good job of setting hitters up. She’ll take a bad pass and make a great set out of it. Normally, off a bad pass, you’d get a good set from other setters. But she wants to make a great set off a bad pass.”

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