Haley Pa‘akaula called it “life-changing.”
No, she wasn’t talking about her decision to play volleyball at Towson University in Maryland.
» School: Towson (Md.) University
» Class: Senior
» Height: 6-0
» Position: OH
» High school: Kamehameha (2012)
She wasn’t referring to her first day of college or the first time she put on her Tigers jersey.
This happened during her sophomore year.
“I got a car,” she said. “It really changed my life.”
Suddenly, the ability to explore the East Coast, a place she never envisioned herself being for college, became possible.
Of course, she had to do it in the spring and summer. During the fall, Pa‘akaula is busy driving the Tigers volleyball team to what she hopes is a third 20-win season in four years.
The 2012 Kamehameha alumna is one of only two four-year seniors on this year’s squad. Despite the inexperience, the Tigers are off to a 10-1 start and have rolled up 10 straight victories since losing the season opener to Tennessee in five.
Pa‘akaula has been the engine at the center of it, leading the team in kills. She’s averaging 3.61 per set while hitting .254 and has posted five double-doubles in 11 starts.
Half of the Tigers’ 10 wins have been in three sets, and only once has Towson been taken to five, a match it pulled out over Utah Valley to win the North Dakota State Tournament two weekends ago.
“We’re a lot younger and a lot more inexperienced, so for sure I definitely did not expect us to be this good this early on,” Pa‘akaula said. “I knew we had a lot of talent coming into the season.”
Towson finished 24-5 when Pa‘akaula was a freshman and 27-5 last season, but suffered shocking first-round exits in the conference tournament both times.
Last year, as the No. 3 seed, Towson lost to sixth-seeded James Madison in five sets with Pa‘akaula out with a high ankle sprain.
“I never recovered in time,” Pa‘akaula said. “It shows that your record really does not matter when you get to the tournament.
“This is my last chance. I need a ring before I leave here.”
Like most high schoolers, Pa‘akaula envisioned playing volleyball on the West Coast, but was recruited hard by then-Towson coach Bruce Atkinson, whose wife was from Hawaii.
The Tigers also had two girls from Hawaii on the roster in Maryknoll alumna Capri Tirrell and ‘Iolani graduate I’ishah Keliikoa, who both recruited Pa‘akaula hard to Maryland.
“A major thing is the two other girls that were here kind of convinced me,” Pa‘akaula said. “I was kind of scared to go to the East Coast because it was so far, but (they) convinced me because of how much they loved it here and they said I wouldn’t get homesick.
“They really sold me.”
Of course, Pa‘akaula was homesick at first, but eventually that wore away.
The city of Towson is located in Baltimore County, roughly 20 minutes from downtown. Washington, D.C., is a 40-minute drive and New York City is roughly three hours away.
Once she realized how much there was to explore, the idea of spending four years on the East Coast suddenly became a lot more exciting.
“That was cool to me being so close to a lot of different things and being able to branch out a little more,” Pa‘akaula said. “There’s so much more to do here than at home, so I don’t get homesick as much.”
As a result, Pa‘akaula has not only learned to love her new surroundings, but she wants to be the spokesperson to high school volleyball players from Hawaii trying to find a place to go for college.
It’s a long flight, but the rewards once arriving are well worth it.
“Nobody ever thinks about going that far because everyone wants to stay on the West Coast and go to California schools,” Pa‘akaula said. “But I’m the biggest promoter for the East Coast now. Don’t be afraid to go that far. In the end, it’s all worth it.”
Pa‘akaula has proven it.
Oregon’s Tobita ranked twice in top 100
Tobita, who went 20-14 in singles during her freshman season, was ranked No. 99.
She’s also ranked 26th in doubles with partner Nia Rose after going 25-10 last season, including 13-5 in the No. 1 flight.
The Ducks open the fall season on Oct. 2 at the Washington State Invitational in Pullman, Wash.
AROUND THE NATION
Kan is SEC’s best
Missouri junior outside hitter Carly Kan was named the SEC player of the week on Monday.
Kan, a 2013 Punahou alumna, hit .299 with 72 kills in three matches to win tournament MVP honors at the Appalachian State Invitational over the weekend.
In nine matches this season, Kan has six 20-plus-kill performances and set a career high with 26 against the host Mountaineers in a win Friday.
She matched that total the next day in a five-set win over Liberty while hitting .489.
Kan leads the SEC with 4.67 kills per set and 5.22 points per set.
She’s also had five double-doubles.
Missouri is 9-0 but didn’t receive a vote in the latest AVCA Top 25.
» DeForest Buckner, Punahou ’12: The Oregon defensive lineman made five tackles with one for a loss in a 31-28 loss to Michigan State on Saturday.
» Jeremy Tabuyo, Saint Louis ’13: The Texas A&M wide receiver caught a 20-yard touchdown pass and finished with two receptions for 27 yards in a 56-23 win over Ball State on Saturday.
» Kawe Johnson, Kahuku ’13: The New Mexico State defensive back made seven tackles, assisting on one for a loss, and broke up a pass in a 34-32 loss to Georgia State on Saturday.
» Titus Failauga, Mid-Pacific ’13: The Oregon State defensive end made six tackles with one for a loss and forced a fumble in a 35-7 loss to Michigan on Saturday.
» Graham Rowley, Waialua ’10: The Brigham Young senior defensive lineman had a sack in a 35-24 win over Boise State on Saturday.
» Kamalei Correa, Saint Louis ’13: The Boise State junior had three tackles, with two for a loss, including a sack, and forced a fumble against the Cougars.
» Kaimi Fairbairn, Punahou ’12: The UCLA senior kicker made all four extra-point attempts, was 3-for-3 on field goals and boomed six of eight kickoffs for touchbacks in a 37-3 win over UNLV on Saturday. Fairbairn’s field goals were from 34, 35 and 42 yards.
» Isaako Savaiinaea, Punahou ’13: The UCLA linebacker tied for team-high honors with five tackles against the Rebels.
» Peni Vea, Kealakehe ’11: The UNLV defensive back tied for team-high honors with eight tackles and broke up a pass against the Bruins.
» Russell Siavii, Leilehua ’12: The Idaho safety made five solo tackles in a 59-9 loss to Southern California at the Coliseum on Saturday.
» Dakota Turner, Mililani ’13: The San Diego State linebacker made four tackles in a 35-7 loss to California on Saturday.
» Breiden Fehoko, Farrington ’15: The Texas Tech defensive tackle had the first tackle for loss of his career in a 69-20 win over UTEP on Saturday.
» Kamu Grugier-Hill, Kamehameha ’12: The Eastern Illinois senior linebacker made nine tackles with two for a loss in a 41-0 loss to Northwestern on Saturday.
» Trey Shimabukuro, Kauai ’11: The Western Oregon quarterback was 18-for-28 for 233 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Simon Fraser on Saturday.
» Kamakana Apelu, Aiea ’13: The Western Oregon sophomore receiver caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and finished with two receptions for 43 yards against Simon Fraser.
» Keanu Yamamoto, Hawaii Prep ’12: The Linfield (Ore.) senior defensive back returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown and had one solo tackle in a 52-14 win over Chapman (Calif.) on Saturday.
» Eli Biondine, Saint Louis ’12: The Linfield linebacker had two solo tackles and forced a fumble against Chapman.
» Kaleo Yanai, Moanalua ’13: The Wildcats running back carried the ball twice for 29 yards against the Panthers.
» Kalei Mau, Kaiser ’13: The Arizona junior outside hitter had a team-high 18 kills in a sweep of LIU-Brooklyn on Saturday and finished with 21 more kills in a four-set loss to Ohio State later that day. Mau finished with 43 kills and 18 digs to help the Wildcats finish 2-1 in the Blackbird Invitational.
» Penina Snuka, Kahuku ’13: The Wildcats setter finished with 140 assists, 29 digs and 13 kills in the Blackbird Invitational.
» Brittney Markwith, Punahou ’13: The Portland junior middle hit .273 with a tournament-high 10 kills, three block assists and two digs in a five-set win over Cal Poly to win the North Harbour Marriott Invitational on Saturday. Markwith had 19 kills and seven block assists in three wins.
» Zoe Leonard, KS-Hawaii ’15: The Dartmouth freshman had a team-high 32 digs, nine assists and four aces in wins over West Virginia and Connecticut to go 2-0 in the Dartmouth tournament that ended Sunday.
» Sydney Fanoga, Punahou ’14: The George Mason sophomore finished with 27 kills, 11 block assists, nine digs, five assists and three aces to help the Patriots finish 1-3 in the Jack Kaiser Volleyball Classic over the weekend.
» Anna Uhr, ‘Iolani ’15: The Harvard freshman had 11 digs, an ace and an assist in a five-set loss to Army on Saturday and finished with 19 digs in three matches of the Service Academy Challenge.
» Ka’iulani Ahuna, KS-Hawaii ’15: The Eastern Washington freshman had a kill and two blocks in a four-set loss to Hawaii on Saturday and finished with nine kills overall in the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge.
» Taryn Auyong, Kamehameha ’14: The Caldwell University sophomore finished with 50 kills, 40 digs and five block assists in four matches to help the Cougars finish 2-2 in the Wilmington Tournament over the weekend.
» Toni Beck, Ka’u ’14: The Briar Cliff (Iowa) University sophomore hit .435 with a team-high 13 kills in a sweep of Dakota State last Thursday.
» Ashley Kelsey, Campbell ’12: The New Mexico junior had nine digs to help the Lobos salvage a win in the USC Classic on Saturday. New Mexico beat Idaho State in five to finish the tournament 1-2. Kelsey had three aces in three matches.
» Elan Yogi, Mililani ’13: The Pacific (Ore.) junior assisted on a goal in a 2-1 win over Saint Martin’s (Wash.) University on Saturday.
» Kalei Gallarde, ‘Iolani ’12: The Pacific (Calif.) senior assisted on the first goal of a 3-0 victory over San Jose State on Sunday.
» Josh Adachi, ‘Iolani ’14: The Tigers goalkeeper picked up his first win of the season against the Spartans, stopping all eight shots to earn the shutout.
Compiled by the Star-Advertiser’s Billy Hull. To submit an athlete for publication, email email@example.com.
DIVISION I WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS
A list of the 57 players from Hawaii playing on the mainland:
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY EAGLES
Hoakalei Dawson (‘Iolani ’14) 5-10, So., S/L
Reilly Killeen (‘Iolani ’15) 5-4, Fr., L/DS
Penina Snuka (Kahuku ’13) 5-6, Jr., S
Kalei Mau (Kaiser ’13) 6-1, Jr., OH
ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS
Shannel Chong (Punahou ’14) 5-6, So., L
BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY COUGARS
Alohi Robins-Hardy (Kamehameha ’14) 6-2, So., S
Kiani Tuileta (Punahou ’15) 5-10, Fr., S
CORNELL UNIVERSITY BIG RED
Brittany Kalepa (Kamehameha ’11) 5-7, Sr., L/DS
DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN
Julia Lau (Punahou ’13) 5-3, Jr., L
Zoe Leonard (KS-Hawaii ’15) 5-10, Fr., L
EASTERN WASHINGTON EAGLES
Ashlee Vaoifi (Mililani ’14) 5-5, So., DS/L
Ka’iulani Ahuna (KS-Hawaii ’15) 5-10, Fr., OH
GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS
Sydney Fanoga (Punahou ’14) 6-0, So., MB
Imani Wimbush (Radford ’12) (RS) 6-0, Jr., MB
Tiyana Hallums (Kamehameha ’15) 5-10, Fr., OH
Anna Uhr (‘Iolani ’15) 5-8, Fr., OH
Loxley Keala (‘Iolani ’13) 6-1, Jr., S
JACKSON STATE TIGERS
Markayisha Masani (University ’15) 5-9, Fr., OH
LONG ISLAND BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS
Cydni Asuncion (Hawaii Baptist ’12) 5-7, Sr., OH/DS
MANHATTAN (N.Y.) COLLEGE JASPERS
Marissa Behrens (Punahou ’14) 6-1, So., MB
Allie Yamashiro (Kamehameha ’13) 5-4, Jr., L
MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE HAWKS
Haley Robinson (‘Iolani ’13) 6-2, Jr., MB/RS
Carly Kan (Punahou ’13) 5-9, Jr., OH
Michelle Robinson (Mid-Pacific ’13) 5-11, Jr., RS
Silerolia Gaogao (Moanalua ’15) 5-11, Fr., OH
NEW MEXICO LOBOS
Ashley Kelsey (Campbell ’12) 6-0, So., OH
NORTH CAROLINA A&T AGGIES
Ashley Johnson (Moanalua ’12) 5-6, Sr., L
Ashlee Asada (‘Iolani ’12) 5-3, Jr., L
NORTHERN ARIZONA LUMBERJACKS
Kayla Guerrero (Maryknoll ’14) 5-3, So., DS
Chelsey Keoho (Kamehameha ’12) 5-3, Sr., DS
Kamalani Akeo (Kamehameha ’15) 5-7, Fr., S/L
Brittney Markwith (Punahou ’13) 6-1, Jr., MB
PORTLAND STATE VIKINGS
Pati Anae (Kahuku ’13) 6-0, Jr., OH
Sarah Liva (Mililani ’14) 6-1, So., MB
Kelly Matthews (Punahou ’14) 5-10, So., OH/RS
SAN FRANCISCO DONS
Kellie Hirotsu (Punahou ’15) 5-9, Fr., RS/DS
ST. JOHN’S RED STORM
Ariel Miyasaki (Mid-Pacific ’15) 5-2, Fr., L/DS
Shawna-Lei Santos (Sacred Hearts ’12) 5-8, Sr., L/DS
Nikki Sen (Sacred Hearts ’13) (RS) 5-5, So., L
SAINT LOUIS BILLIKENS
Nicole Sniffen (Kamehameha ’11) 5-10, Sr., OH
SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY SPARTANS
Jamie Hirai (Mid-Pacific ’14) 5-7, So., L
SIENA (N.Y.) COLLEGE SAINTS
Bobbi Lin Kalama (Kamehameha-Maui ’13) 5-8, Jr., S/DS
Kalehua Katagiri (Kamehameha ’13) 5-7, Jr., L/DS
SOUTHERN UTAH THUNDERBIRDS
Joanna Christenson (Kamehameha ’13) 5-8, Jr., S
Remo Gaogao (Punahou ’14) 5-9, So., OH
Faith Ma’afala (Kamehameha ’14) 5-8, So., S
Mia Heirakuji (Kamehameha ’15) 5-5, Fr., DS/L
TENNESSEE STATE TIGERS
Puamana Danielson (Kalani ’13) 5-7, Jr., S/DS
Kat Brooks (Punahou ’12) 5-4, Sr., L
TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY VAQUEROS
Haley Durham (Kaiser ’12) 6-0, Sr., MB
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
Reyn Akiu (Kamehameha ’15) 5-2, Fr., DS/L
TOWSON (MD.) TIGERS
Haley Pa’akaula (Kamehameha ’12) 6-0, Sr., MB/OH
Trinity Alualu (Farrington ’13) 5-11, Jr., OH
Rachel Inouye (Punahou ’12) 5-6, Sr., DS/L
Adora Anae (Kahuku ’14) 6-1, So., OH/RS
WINTHROP (S.C.) EAGLES
Keaupono Fey (Punahou ’14) 6-0, So., MB
Claire Feeley (Punahou ’13) 6-1, Jr., MB