Lady Mustangs Back In Division I Volleyball — And Ready

Head volleyball coach Roberta Downey welcomed the Mustangs’ recent promotion to Division I – effective for at least the next two years – even though her 2012 edition could be one of the younger units in the OIA this fall.

“This is where you want your program to be – in Division I,” said Downey. “We’re in the rebuilding stage now and to compete in Division I, we need to be on the fast track and develop our kids faster.”

Downey enters her fourth season at Kalaheo in August. The team was in Division I for her first season before the program spent two years in DII. (The OIA’s change in scheduling format prior to 2011 will allow Kalaheo to play each opponent in the East, whether DI or DII, although they are now DI as far as post-season is concerned.)

Kalaheo recently started its summer conditioning and will work toward the official start of the season next month. Just prior to finalizing her roster, Downey also expects Kalaheo to take part in Waipahu’s summer volleyball league.

“That’s where we’ll find out a lot,” she said. “I’m glad they (Waipahu High) started the league because it was needed. We’ll be there the entire month of July.”

Downey is building her team around seniors Ilima Sumida and Rebekah Kaulbaum and juniors Skye Parker and Tati Schenk-Lee.

“It’s been nice to see that all four of them have come back strong,” she said. “Ilima is playing with high intensity for the summer, and seeing Rebekah, she’s been hitting really hard. She looks pretty strong. Skye and Tati both play for Hookino (Volleyball Club).

“I look at all of them as (the focal point of) our attack. Our seniors and some of the juniors will be able to carry the load of the team, and they lead the others.”

The rest of the opening-day roster could be filled with relative newcomers, including some from what Downey considers a highly regarded freshman class.

“Our incoming class has a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for them. Most of them already are playing club ball. If they stay together, they can be really, really, good.

“Even though this is expected to be a rebuilding year for us, I think we’ll compete very well. The coaching staff we’ve put together will give us a lot, too.”