Versatile Senior Carries Leilehua Into First State Tournament

Leilehua's playoff hopes ride on Kayla Kilaulani's talented shoulders. Photo courtesy of the Kilaulani family.

As one of the top college volleyball prospects in the state, Leilehua’s Kayla Kilaulani knows she will have an important decision to make in February when she selects a school to attend.

For the present, however, there’s no better place for her to be than with her Leilehua teammates. Led by Kilaulani, the Mules became the first team in school history to qualify for the Division I state tournament, which will play out next week on Hawaii island.

“This is the furthest a Leilehua team has ever gone, so we’re making history,” Kilaulani said.

Leilehua took an 8-3 record into its match last Thursday with Farrington in the OIA post-season tournament. The Mules already had punched their ticket for the state tourney last Wednesday when they swept Castle in two games. Kilaulani recently took some time away from the court to visit with MidWeek‘s Central Oahu Islander.

Who’s had the biggest impact on your life? My dad (Esmond). He’s the one who pushed me to my limits. He wanted me to have a good future, go to college and set a good example for my younger brother (Keali’i) and sister (Katelyn).

What is your earliest sports-related memory? In fifth grade, when I started playing with Mililani Volleyball Club. I’m still with the same club. We made it to the state championship game, but I was a bench warmer then. It was an inspirational moment and made me want to push myself to be better and become a starter.

What area of your game did you focus on in preparing for your senior season?

My position is different during the high school season than it is with my club. I switch every half of the year from setter to outside hitter, so my main focus was working on my hops (jumping skills) during the summer.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through athletics? A connection. No matter how good you are, you need a connection, because team-work is what will take you far.

Who has been Leilehua’s best “practice player” this season – the girl who gives 110 percent at all times? (Outside hitter/defensive specialist) Jordan Tolentino. She never misses a practice, she never gives up, and she’s so supportive.

What Internet site do you frequent the most? Instagram. I share photos every single day.

What is your least favorite household chore? Doing the dishes. Everybody in my house knows that. I hate touching gross food. I’d rather clean the yard.

What movie could you watch over and over? Pitch Perfect. I loved that movie.

Who are three of your favorite musical artists? Beyonce, Sammy Johnson and Rebel Souljahz.

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies? I like to play the piano. I’m trying to teach myself through YouTube. I don’t take lessons. Thank you for the Internet.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I see myself as an engineer, living in Hawaii and building something like Ko Olina. I’d also like to build my own house. I want to major in architecture in college and come home and give back to Hawaii.

If you could have your pick, what celebrity would you most like to meet? Beyonce.

You’re stuck on Kahoolawe and can have an endless supply of just one food. What would it be? Bacon. I love bacon. I eat it before every match.