Persistence And Patience Pay Off For Leilehua Hitter

Of all his qualities, it was patience that served Leilehua High’s Max Aiono the best while transitioning from the football field to the volleyball court as a freshman.

For two years, his time on the court came in practice and seldom in games.

“I was left bench,” Aiono said of his freshman and sophomore seasons. “I watched. I wanted to be on the court. I knew I had to push even more (for playing time). I had to change a lot of things and adjust my game.”

Aiono’s rise began during his junior year, when he cracked the starting lineup for the Mules and was a key component for a Leilehua team that made the Division I state tournament field.

This spring, he blossomed further as an outside hitter.

“My senior year, I wanted to put everything together,” Aiono said. “I had to do what I had to do to help our team.”

Aiono’s perseverance paid off in a big way, as he recently was chosen as OIA West Player of the Year in a vote of league coaches.

He helped lead Leilehua to an 8-5 season this spring, which included a 7-3 record in the West.

Losses to Moanalua and Mililani ended the Mules’ bid for a return to the state tourney, but Aiono’s volleyball days are far from over. He accepted a scholarship offer from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and will continue his education in the fall.

“They watched tape of my games from last year and offered in February,” said Aiono, who plans to major in cosmetology.

UCSB went 17-10 overall this past season under head coach Rick McLaughlin, including a 13-9 record in the Big West Conference.

Aiono recently took some time to visit with Central Oahu Voice.

Who’s had the biggest impact on your life?
My dad (Hugh). At home or with sports, he taught me to work hard.

What is your earliest sports-related memory?
I started playing football when I was 9. I didn’t have a choice. My whole family grew up playing football. It’s why I changed to volleyball. I used to watch people play volleyball at a park in Mililani and wanted to play.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through athletics?
To make sure you be who you want to be, and don’t listen to negativity from anyone else.

When did you know volleyball was the sport for you?
I didn’t play until I was a freshman. I was already tall, so if I wasn’t playing football, volleyball was likely to be my next sport.

What website do you frequent the most?
I go on Instagram a lot — whenever I have time.

What is your least favorite household chore?
I don’t like cleaning the bathroom. I don’t like cleaning the toilet.

What movie could you watch over and over?
I like to watch Fifty Shades of Grey.

What is your dream destination?
I would go to New Zealand.

Name three of your favorite musical artists?
Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Beyonce.

How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to go shopping, and I like to go to the beach.

Given the opportunity, what celebrity would you most like to meet?
Chris Brown.

You’re stuck on Kaho‘olawe and can have an endless supply of just one food. What would it be?
I like Churros.