Pearl City Standout To Join Chaminade VB Team Next Fall

When Chaminade University began to aggressively recruit Pearl City’s Kaya Chong, the senior outside hitter didn’t have to look far for a firsthand account of what it’s like to be a student-athlete at CU.

Chong’s mother, Terri Berfulfo, is one of the most decorated volleyball players in the college’s history, having had her No. 7 retired prior to her final home game as a Silversword back in 1993.

“She was really happy, but at the same time, she asked me if I wanted to go away for school and experience other places,” Kaya said. “A lot of schools had started to get in touch with me, including some DI’s (Division I schools) on the Mainland. Chaminade really wanted me, and I wanted to stay home so I decided to go there.”

As for following in her mother’s footsteps, she added, “I want to make my own footsteps.”

Chong recently led Pearl City to an 11-7 mark as well as a third straight appearance in the Division I state volleyball tournament. She was named to the OIA West First Team All-Conference list in a vote of league coaches at season’s end.

Despite her mother’s success on the volleyball court, there was no direct line to the sport for Kaya.

“When I was little, I mostly played basketball. My mom used to always talk to me about playing volleyball, but I hated it until I was in seventh or eighth grade and I started playing more,” recalled Chong.

“Once I started to get a passion for it, I knew volleyball was pretty much my ticket to an education. I didn’t want my parents to have the burden of having to pay.”

Chong is undecided about what her area of concentration will be in the fall. She’s leaning toward CU’s Criminal Justice program, but is also considering becoming an athletic trainer.

The family atmosphere that thrives within the Chaminade volleyball program was also a strong selling point for the Swords in landing Chong.

“I’m super-excited to be going there,” she said. “I met the whole team, and they were all very welcoming.”

Chong’s recruiting class also will include Castle High’s Kuulei Lynch, the East Player of the Year in the OIA this past season. Both practiced with Chaminade in the days after their prep careers had officially ended.

“We were both dying,” Chong laughed, noting the unrelenting pace of a college-level practice.

“It was a very fast pace. There was no time for basics. You’re supposed to know (everything). It was way different from a high school practice.”

Chong also liked the style of head coach Kahala Kabalis.

“She’s a really good coach,” Chong said. “I’m excited to be coached by her and about next season.”