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Bob Hogue

Ah Hoy Carries On Navalta Tradition

Seasiders’ coach Mona Ah-Hoy talks strategy with Huafa Saulala Photo courtesy BYU-Hawaii Sports Information

When you walk into Cannon Activities Center on the campus of BYU-Hawaii, you don’t have to guess about its great tradition in women’s volleyball. All you have to do is look to the rafters and see all the national championship banners hanging there.

Championship after championship have run through Laie, both at the NAIA and NCAA Division II level – 10 national titles in all! – and those banners also could have the name Wilfred Navalta sewed into their lining. That’s because Navalta, as head coach from 1985 to 2012, was responsible for all of them.

But also partially responsible is the woman who is now directing the Seasiders’ outstanding program this year, Mona Ah-Hoy. As a player, Ah-Hoy was a two-time first team All-American in the late 1980s and early ’90s who helped guide BYU-Hawaii to a pair of national titles in 1986 and 1987. Then, as an assistant, it was Ah-Hoy who sat beside Navalta as his top assistant coach the past five years.

After Navalta’s retirement at the conclusion of this past season’s run to the NCAA Division II national championship match, it was Ah-Hoy who stepped up to take the title as interim head coach of the Seasiders for 2013. With Ah-Hoy in the so-called director’s chair on the BYU-Hawaii bench, it was fitting that Navalta was on hand to watch his beloved team in the PacWest opener in Laie. A quiet man, he tried to remain incognito high above the visitors’ sidelines, but it was obvious that he wanted to be there for his longtime assistant. “Don’t tell anyone I’m here,” he tells me, smiling broadly.

“I respect Coach so much,” Ah-Hoy says. “He’s done so much for this program. I can’t say enough about him. We still use the same system he set up here.”

But Ah-Hoy, in her own quiet way, already has put her own stamp on the program. One of the things she’s done is make the Seasider bench a family affair, bringing in her daughter Camilla as an assistant. Camilla Ah-Hoy, like her mother, was an outstanding prep player at Kahuku (both won player-of-year trophies when they played for the Red Raiders).

But unlike her mom, Camilla went to the Mainland to showcase her skills. She had an outstanding collegiate career at Oregon State. She now is back in the Islands, where she and her mother create an interesting duo during Seasider time-outs. Often, the daughter steps forward to lead the discussion with the team while the mom handles the administrative side.

“Her strength is administration and defense, and mine is offense, so it works very well,” says Camilla, who played for her mom when Kahuku won the state high school girls’ volleyball title in 2002. “She’s terrific with the players. She knows just how to handle them during this critical time of their lives.”

Mona and Camilla also share a couple of other passions, starting with basketball.

“I remember when I was a (collegiate volleyball) player, I would leave practice and then go play basketball afterward,” Mona says.

The other passion is supporting Mona’s son and Camilla’s brother, freshman Kesi Ah-Hoy of the Kahuku football team.

“It was a tough choice when I took this job because I knew I was torn by the fact that I really wanted to see him play,” Mona says. “In our (first matches), I made sure I knew what was happening in his game before I turned all my attention to the court here. I will always be the biggest fan for Kahuku.”

And now, as the leader of a BYUH women’s volleyball team once again ranked in the nation’s top 10, Mona Ah-Hoy will try to hang yet another championship banner in the rafters at Cannon Activities Center.

FOLLOWING UP:

Last week’s column mentioned that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has a Twitter account: @Flyin’HawaiianUO.

We heard from his mom Alana – who read the column online in Eugene before the Ducks played Cal Saturday – that Marcus does not have a Twitter account. This one was created by someone pretending to be him. She says the Oregon athletic department already has had a couple of other fake Twitter accounts shut down.

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