LIHUE — A crowd of about 400 came out to watch the Green and White exhibition game put on by the University of Hawaii mens volleyball team.
The scrimmage match was held Saturday evening at Kauai High School.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Enoch A‘ana, Kauai High School varsity boys volleyball head coach. “For the community on Kauai to experience such a high level of play from our University of Hawaii Warriors was such a treat. We want to thank (the sponsors) Texaco, Ron Kouchi, Stephanie Iona and Laurie Yoshida. Those are the main people that made this possible for us.”
The Green Team defeated the White Team in straight sets — 25-21, 25-11 and 25-18.
Then to the delight of the crowd, the Rainbow Warriors played an additional set. The Green Team again came out victorious in a hotly contested game, 27-25.
“They compete. We have a lot of good players in the program,” said Charlie Wade, UH men’s volleyball head coach. “Guys take a lot of pride in how hard they’ve worked to represent the program and represent the state. They got a chance to get out and compete, and practices are competitive every day. Guys are fighting for playing time. I thought it was pretty entertaining. I certainly like the competitive level.”
Several of Kauai’s youth volleyball players were in attendance to watch the Division I college team.
“I was watching all of the kids that play volleyball here on Kauai that were here tonight — all their faces and all their expressions of ‘Wow.’ It’s just amazing,” A‘ana said. “Our goal, as coaches here on Kauai, is to make sure our kids can attain what that level is. That next level. That’s what we all want for everybody.”
Island School sophomore Ashley Mecham, an outside hitter for the Voyagers girls team, aspires to one day play Division I college volleyball.
“That’s what I’m shooting for,” Mecham said. Watching the UH team play, “it shows I have to step up my game to be able to play at their level, at the girls level for Division I.”
About seeing the team on Kauai, she added: “It’s crazy having a university come down here and play for Kauai. There’s not that many people that came, but it’s really cool to experience that and have them in one of our own gyms.”
A couple of times, the team invited fans to join in the match.
Kauai High School junior Travis Duran, who served as a line judge, was brought on to serve a ball and played for a few seconds.
“What’s really crazy is how they spike the ball. That’s really insane to me, and how they got to dig their balls,” said Duran, who plays libero for the Red Raiders boys team. “That’s really hard — hitting a 50-60-mph ball and then digging that. That’s insane. That would be my goal, to be honest.”
“That was honestly amazing,” he added about playing with the team. “But what sucks was that I wanted to dig one of their balls so that they could be amazed at me. Too bad they hit it out of bounds.”
The crowd appeared to cheer louder whenever a player from the state of Hawaii scored a point or was brought onto the court.
“I think the players really enjoyed just getting out and playing in a more intimate venue,” Wade said. “The fans were close, and certainly the fans were into it. So, it was a fun environment.”
For UH redshirt freshman Isaac Liva, an alumnus of Mililani High School on Oahu, playing at Kauai High gave him a sense of deja vu.
“It’s kind of like full circle for me,” said Liva, who plays middle blocker and opposite for UH. “My high school basketball team (my junior year attending Hawaii Baptist Academy), we came down. I think we played here or at one of the high schools. So, it’s crazy to be back on Kauai. That was the last time I was on Kauai.”
On Friday, the team hosted youth volleyball clinics at the Kauai High School gym.
“We love it. I hope they all had a good time. We had so much fun,” Liva said. “I love being in the clinics and working with the kids, and getting to better them and give back to the community. It’s really like a community outreach for us. It was nice for us, a little vacation, but really it’s for the community we get out there, get seen and help them out.”