Kailua Girls Volleyball Coach Praises Community Support

After earning a Division II state tournament berth last fall, and finishing as runner-up in the OIA White, hopes are once again high for the Kailua volleyball team this fall. This time it will look to be in the mix for a Red conference title after getting promoted to Division I in the off-season. Kailua returns to action at 5 p.m. Thursday at home against Kaimuki. Surfrider head coach Jeff Uyemura-Reyes recently took some time away from the practice floor to visit with MidWeek‘s Windward Islander.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of taking over the Kailua volleyball program? The level of positive support from the Kailua and Waimanalo communities has been outstanding. The players are responsive to the changes that are being made, and the parents are helpful, caring and encouraging.

What has pleased you most about your current team through fall camp and pre-season? Our varsity team was really put to the test at the Longy Okamoto Volleyball tournament, and after three grueling days, we were able to come out with a championship win. What most impressed our staff was the mental toughness that our team possessed and how well they were able to handle challenging situations.

From whom can Kailua fans expect big things this season? Team captain Keala Kaio-Perez will have an amazing senior year. An excellent serve-receive passer and defensive player, Keala also is a seasoned outside hitter who led our team in the Longy Tournament with 58 kills. Gigi Murray, our libero, is another senior to watch for, as she solidifies our back row’s defense.

Who among your underclassmen is ready for a break-out season? Raelynn Leong, junior, has the potential of being one of the best outside hitters in the state. Raelynn is dynamic, fast and incredibly aggressive, which are all very important traits for a dominant player on the left side. Sophomore Keila Fuatagavi-Sale steps onto the varsity court for the first time as one of our starting middle blockers. Watch out for her explosive quick attacks.

You are playing in arguably the most competitive league in the state. What is your impression of the OIA East, and who do you see as being among the favorites this fall? The OIA East will be incredibly tough. Farrington, Castle, and Kahuku are definitely contending teams with great size in the front row and lots of offensive weapons. You also cannot count out Moanalua, which traditionally has fantastic ball control and great defense. Every match this season will be a battle and hard fought.