Wendt Connection A Good Thing For Kapolei Water Polo

Tiala and Mailani Wendt. Photo from Tiala Wendt.

Tiala and Mailani Wendt. Photo from Tiala Wendt.

For all the games the Kapolei water polo team has won during Tiala Wendt’s high school career, the highlight of her four-year run with the Hurricanes has been playing with younger sister Mailani.

“We do everything together,” said Tiala. “We always hang out with her friends or my friends. Playing with her has been awesome.”

The cohesiveness also has begun to pay off in a big way in water polo, as they are able to anticipate each other’s movements. “Mentally, we can pick up on each other’s vibe,” Mailani said. “It’s a great experience playing with your sister, and it makes our team more together.”

“We have a telepathy between us,” Tiala added. “We kind of know each other’s movements on the field.”

As in past years, hopes are high for Kapolei, which went 9-2 last year against OIA foes (and finished third in the league’s post-season tourney) on their way to another state tournament appearance. Indeed, the Kapolei team has qualified every year since the program’s inception in 2004.

This season, it’s off to a 3-1 start, defeating Roosevelt, Waialua and Kalani, to date. Kapolei’s lone loss came in its opener against defending champion Kahuku.

“I’m stoked for this season — I think we’ll do well,” Mailani said. “I can see the effort everyone is putting in.”

Tiala was a First Team All-Conference pick as goalkeeper last year and is on pace to have another stellar year. She was a field player as a freshman, but adapted quickly to her new position. “I was scared of the ball at first, to be honest — it hit me in the face a few times — but it really did come naturally after that.”

Mailani sees her sister’s leadership skills as her strength. “She’s very driven and determined, and she definitely has good leadership skills in practice and in games.”

Among the speedier players in the league, Mailani won the OIA 100 freestyle during the competitive swimming season in January.

“She’s fast, and she can think on the spot,” Tiala said of her sister. “She always knows what to do, and she improvises very well.”

In Kapolei’s most recent outing, a 7-3 win over Kalani, the siblings figured big for the Hurricanes, as Tiala scored twice when out in the field and Mailani added a goal.

Mailani already has seven goals this season, including a three-goal effort versus league favorite Kahuku in week one.

In addition to competitive swimming and water polo, the Wendt sisters also played on the girls volleyball team, which was OIA runner-up in the fall.

They were part of Kapolei’s 200and 400-medley relay teams (along with water polo teammates Leilani Hererra and Corilynn Higa), which each finished in the top five during the OIA swim season.

Off the field: “We’re total opposites,” Tiala said. “I’m the loud one, she’s the quiet one. When we’re together, we’re always loud and dancing and having fun.”

Kapolei returns to action Wednesday at Barbers Point against Kailua at 4:45 p.m. and Castle at 7:15 p.m. On Saturday, the Hurricanes host Moanalua at 1:45 p.m. at Barbers Point.