Solid Falcon Volleyball Team Ready To Take On Kahuku

When it comes to girls volleyball, life in the OIA Eastern Conference offers no breaks.

Kalani head coach Janeen Waialae can attest to that, as the front end of her team’s schedule has matches with Moanalua, Kalaheo, Roosevelt, Kahuku and Farrington — some of the league’s top programs.

But she thinks Kalani can hold its own.

“We have a lot of talent this year,” said Waialae, whose team had a win over Kalaheo to go with a loss to Moanalua to open 2012. “I’m big on working hard and always pushing to be better day by day. We always want to be getting stronger mentally and physically, and our players have done that. They’re also a good bunch of kids, and I’m real proud of that.”

This week looks exciting with a game at Kahuku Tuesday and back home Thursday for a much-anticipated Farrington game.

Seniors Kaiana Ieae (outside hitter/middle blocker), Puamana Danielson (setter/outside hitter) and Megan Kawano (libero) have led the way so far. All three were key components last year, and they’re poised to finish their careers in style.

“Kaiana’s tenacity and work ethic are her strength,” she said. “She’s so aggressive that her energy pumps up the rest of the team.

“Puamana’s composure is her strength. She leads us on and off of the court — a quiet leader who leads by example.

“Kawano’s work ethic on and off the court is her strength. If she misses a workout due to school, she’ll run on her own time.”

Waialae regards her team as a generalist rather than a specialist. “Our whole team is solid — we have a lot of girls who can play multiple positions.”

Junior Courtney Panoke, a middle blocker and opposite hitter, and freshman setter Rika Okino, also have figured big. “Rika runs our offense pretty well, and Courtney is very strong offensively. She’s been a big help.”

They face one of their biggest tests Tuesday in Kahuku. “Our service will be important. Being able to keep them out of (operating) their offense will be key for us. Kahuku always comes with size, so we’ll have to be able to cover and keep balls in play. Those two things will be important.”