All-BIIF volleyball: For HPA volleyball player of year Camero, it was a season worth fighting for

  • Hawaii Prep senior Malia Camero is the first setter to earn BIIF girls volleyball player of the since Waiakea’s Ashia Joseph in 2010. BIIF D-II champion Ka Makani had four players selected to the first team. (TOM LINDER/West Hawaii Today)

Hawaii Prep senior Malia Camero may have gone unnoticed when she walked on the volleyball court. After all, she’s a setter and stands 5 feet, 4 inches.

But her ability to distribute the ball and her other skills stood out for the BIIF Division II champion Ka Makani, who landed four players on the first team, including junior outside hitter Parker Lewis, freshman hitter Margot Lewis, and sophomore setter/opposite Kahena Samura.


Camero was named the BIIF player of the year, in a vote by the league’s coaches and Big Island newspapers.

“I really can’t believe it. It’s unreal, and I’m so grateful,” she said. “I tried to bring positivity and energy. This season was so difficult with COVID and injuries. Sometimes, we didn’t know what we were fighting for. A BIIF game could be gone. But I tried to bring positivity and energy to every game.”

The other All-BIIF first team players are Konawaena junior middle blocker Chelsea Velez, junior hitter Braelyn Kauhi and sophomore hitter Tiffanie Alo.

HPA’s Sharon Peterson was selected as the BIIF coach of the year, after leading Ka Makani to their fourth Division II title.

“Malia was our best player and our captain,” Peterson said. “She was great in practice and in games. She had great leadership. She really committed herself to the season. Without her, we don’t win the title. Setters don’t often get recognized, but Malia was very deserving.”

Setters are like offensive linemen. They do the hard work that goes unnoticed and only draw attention when a quarterback gets sacked.

Peterson should know about setters because she was a great one herself. The NAIA and UH-Hilo Hall of Famer played on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team.

In fact, BIIF setters are rarely recognized. The last setter who was the BIIF player of the year was Waiakea’s Ashia Joseph in 2010, when there was an All-BIIF East-West format.

One of the country’s best all-time setters is USC’s Debbie Green, who took home a silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Those who remember Green know that she stood 5-4, the same height as Camero, who was tutored by two great volleyball players, Peterson and Kauwila Lavea-Garmon, a Honokaa graduate, who played at UHH, Academy of Art,and Vanguard.

“I tried a couple of sports when I was young, but nothing stuck. By the third grade, volleyball was my only sport,” Camero said. “I started at Parks and Recreation, a local club team in middle school, and starting playing high school.

“I joined the Kamuela Volleyball Club in the eighth grade. Coach Garmon taught me about perseverance. We played great Hilo club teams and traveled to Las Vegas. It’s a completely different game there. Coach Sharon taught me about having a strong mindset. It not only helps you but your team as well. That’s a big part of the game.”

Camero received All-BIIF honorable mention in 2019. She made a huge jump on the accomplishment ladder and played in the front row for the first time.

“It was very intimidating. Up until this past season, I never played in the front row,” she said. “Coach Sharon taught me to be smart with my placement of the ball. I had to play smart on the net.”

After she graduates from HPA, Camero is looking to study nursing and play volleyball at a West Coast school.

“That’s my other goal, to come back to Hawaii,” she said. “I know there will be a lot of opportunities. That’s another big factor.”

For those who are still figuring out why the last name Camero sounds familiar, that’s because her brother is Kalan Camero, a 2015 HPA graduate and guard on the basketball squad that won Ka Makani’s first state title in 2014.

Her other, brother, Colby, was interested in theater. Her dad, Fred Camero Jr., grew up on Lanai, where he played basketball and volleyball and ran cross country. Mom Alyce was a cheerleader.

For fun, there’s only one thing that Malia Camero enjoys doing.

“I like to spend time with my friends and family,” she said. “We live 15 minutes from the beach in Waimea. My dad and I like to go down to the beach on Saturday and play volleyball.”

All-BIIF Division II girls volleyball

First team

Malia Camero HPA Setter 12

Parker Lewis HPA OH 11

Margot Lewis HPA OH 9

Kahena Samura HPA OPP/S 10

Chelsea Velez Kona MB 11

Braelyn Kauhi Kona OH 11

Tiffanie Alo Kona OH 10

Player of the year

Malia Camero, HPA

Coach of the year

Sharon Peterson, HPA

Honorable mention

Honokaa: Taylor Guerrero, Kristen Ragasa

HPA: Elaina Head, Tiffany Bento, Kailana Akau, Tiana Edwards

Kohala: Mahea Pang

Kona: Marina Nitta, Liberty Tuifua, Alexis Dullam, Kailee Llanes-Kelekolio

Pahoa: Rieshel Haili, Hayden Quihano, Hope Kamakeeaina

Parker: Jade Kaiawe-Masuda, Kaelyn Juan, Briana Head

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