LIHUE — The most crucial facet of the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball visit to Kauai was that it was free for residents, said Laurie Yoshida of Corteva Agriscience, who coordinated the weekend trip for the reigning Big West champion Rainbow Warriors.
Starting with a meeting with state Senate President Ron Kouchi and the Hawaii staff, the visit included clinics for youth, hospital visits and a highlight scrimmage that necessitated sponsorships by the County of Kauai, Alexander & Baldwin, Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, Grove Farm Company, Global Agriculture and Corteva Agriscience.
“We need the support from everyone,” said state Rep. James Tokioka Saturday night during the scrimmage game. “Senator Kouchi had the connections to make this trip happen. He also has lined up sponsors for another possible visit later in the spring, but we need to support these efforts. We need to fill the gym.”
Although greeted by record-breaking participation in the youth clinics, the audience at the highlight scrimmage matchup between the men’s volleyball team fell short of those attending Kauai Interscholastic Federation high school matches.
“This is a nice way to wrap up our fall season,” said Charlie Wade, UH men’s volleyball head coach. “Competition for floor positions is intense as we build for the season that we ended with room for improvement.”
That set the stage for the four scheduled sets, where the team broke into White and Green playing three regulation sets to 25 points, and a fourth set where “Doghouse Rules” were effected, sending errant players to be immediately replaced.
“I always wanted to be a Rainbow Warrior,” said Kaheamoana Kamalani, a Kilauea native. “I played for Island School for two years before transferring to Kaiser High School. I’m a freshman now, playing the outside hitting position, and it’s like a dream come true. The University of Hawaii is so supportive, and the playing environment is great.”
Kamalani is one of the players who received a lot of enthusiastic support from the audience, including his mother Roni Marley, who was among the volunteers scrambling forth during the activities that filled the time between sets.
Tori Kagawa, a KIF official and teacher at the Waimea Canyon School, was one of the Kauai volunteers along with former Kauai High School coach Enoch Ka‘ana who emceed the activity during the public sections of the Hawaii visit.
“I took in the coaches’ clinic that was led by the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball coaching staff in the Kauai High School library to comply with the collegiate rules,” Kagawa said. “But I had time to break away to check on some of my students who were participating in the clinic with the Hawaii players in the gym.”
Ka‘ana said the participation during the free youth clinics was record-breaking, more than any of the previous visits by the Hawaii team.
“We had to have Coach Deej Peleras get some more balls from Island School,” Kagawa said. “We had a lot of players.”
More than 60 middle school students and 120 high school students were engaged in learning activities with the Rainbow Warrior players Friday night, a lot of them returning for the scrimmage and getting involved with volunteering during play that was prefaced with Rainbow Warrior Max Rosenfeld (he’s from Illinois) playing the ukulele and rendering “Hawaii Pono‘i” with Ka‘ana, to the amusement of Tokioka.
“We’re coming back,” said Rainbow Warrior James Anastassiades, who took over microphone duty from Ka‘ana during the third set. “We have one trophy this time. The next time, we’re coming back with two trophies!”