The title banners hanging from the Stan Sheriff Center rafters have been silent reminders of Hawaii’s early volleyball success, a legacy that has continued decades after that last championship in 1987.
During this week’s Verizon Wireless Challenge, those banners represented even more, with players from each of those winning teams only a dozen court-lengths away from the beloved sweat box called Klum Gym.
"My players asked about me playing in here (the Sheriff Center)," said San Diego State coach Deitre Collins-Parker, arguably the most decorated player in Rainbow Wahine history. "I told them, ‘Let me show you Klum Gym.’
"It would have been amazing to play in this arena. It’s such a fun atmosphere, and I would have been very appreciative of it. But where we played was special in a different way, and it is amazing that people still remember you."
Collins-Parker, the 1983 Broderick Cup winner as the top female collegiate athlete, anchored the 1982 and ’83 NCAA championship teams that were a combined 37-3 in the middle blocker’s last two seasons. She’s never been able to return for an alumnae match, having gone from Manoa to the national team, the 1988 Olympics and then into the coaching ranks.
"Maybe they could have a spring game?" she suggested.
It might be enough to lure Diana Jessie-Nunn back as well. She and Collins-Parker have remained close, although the two were never teammates.
"She was playing basketball for the one season when I was a freshman," said Jessie-Nunn, a senior on the 1987 team, who flew in from Dallas. "She showed me the ropes coming in. I wanted to come and support her team.
"Seeing the banners brings back a lot of memories. It was a very special time. We played a few games at Blaisdell (Arena), but I didn’t like it there, it was so open. I loved the closeness of Klum."
That closeness has been a lasting bond. Marcie Wurts Nowack (1980-83) lives in Kailua but often visits Diane Sebastian Pestolesi (1978-81) in Southern California.
"My mom still lives in Corona del Mar, and I see Diane at least once a year," Wurts Nowack said. "I love coming in here, seeing the banners. It’s part of history and I’m proud to be part of it.
"It doesn’t seem that it’s been that long until you think about your kids, who weren’t born yet. You see Diane’s and Lee Ann’s daughters playing and see how similar they are to their parents."
There was no mistaking Lee Ann Pestana Satele’s daughter, Chanteal, when Pestolesi saw her play a few years ago.
"We were at a tournament in Reno and I thought, ‘That has to be Lee Ann’s daughter,’" said Pestolesi (1978-81), a graduate on the 1982-83 teams. "It was."
Both of their daughters played well this weekend. Kari Pestolesi was an all-tournament selection for UC Irvine, and Chanteal Satele for No. 6 Hawaii, the tournament champion.
"What a wonderful experience this is for Kari," said Pestolesi, a Wahine All-American, who married former UH men’s All-American Tom. "It’s something she grew up hearing about, how great it was to play here, how great it was to play for Dave Shoji, how great to play in front of all the wonderful fans. Ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of this opportunity.
"Playing here was such a positive experience for me. Even though we didn’t have this great arena, we still had the great support and it was awesome to be a Wahine in the ’70s and ’80s.
"Our legacy? There is nothing that compares to this. Thirty years later, people still remember. That has to do with Hawaii volleyball. This is a special, special place to play."
PENN STATE FINALLY LOSES
It had been nearly three years and 109 matches since the Penn State women’s volleyball team had lost a match.
Now the second-longest winning streak in Division I team sports is over after the Nittany Lions fell to Stanford 28-26, 25-12, 25-18 last night in a tournament at Florida.