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Big Island college report: Ahuna goes 30 for 30 in record-breaking smash

  • UC Riverside photo
    If the first weekend of the season is any indication, Kamehameha graduate Kaiu Ahuna is in for a big senior season at UC Riverside. She has 80 kills through three matches.

When Kaiu Ahuna’s former club coach saw her current college coach this summer, he passed on something he’d recently noticed about Ahuna, a player he’s been mentoring much of her life.

“I told UC Irvine’s coach (Michelle Patton-Coleman) that I’d never seen (Kaiu) work so hard this offseason,” Chris Leonard said. “And I told her that I wasn’t just saying that.”

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No, he wasn’t.

Anyone who watched Ahuna start her senior season off in grand style at UC Riverside, noticed, too. The Kamehameha grad rewrote the Highlanders’ record books in a two-part doozy.

On Friday, she posted 30 kills against Montana at the Riverside-Fullerton Classic, breaking the program’s single-match mark in the 25-point set era, hitting hit .364 as her record-breaking kill capping the four-set victory.

“Kaiu’s impact on today’s match was monstrous,” Patton-Coleman said in a release. “It was great to see because I know how badly she wants to lead this team and today she did just that. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Ahuna hit .452, but that record was short-lived because …

On Saturday, Ahuna went for 33 kills and 22 digs to become the first UC Riverside player to post 30 kills on consecutive days.

“I owe it all to my teammates who always set me up to perform well. It was awesome to set the record tonight, but the loss is what we’re most concerned with,” Ahuna said in a release. “We played as a team and the outcome came down to just one or two balls. This match is going to fuel us to prepare even more for next weekend.”

Ahuna, who played club ball on the Big Island with Pilipaa and was a two-time BIIF player of the year with the Warriors, gave the Big West Conference an easy decision when the it announced her as the first player if the week Monday.

In three matches, she totaled 80 kills and hit .364 with 44 digs for the Highlanders (2-1). After taking 173 swings, Ahuna can rest up before Riverside plays at the Idaho State Invitational this weekend. Riverside will be on Oahu to face Hawaii on Sept. 29.

• Ahuna’s former high school teammate, junior setter Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker, posted 51 assists as Cal State Northridge finished 1-2 at Hornet Invitational in Sacramento, Calif.

• Hilo grad Kailee Kurokawa made her college debut for Seattle University on Saturday, posting six digs and an assist in a five-set loss at San Diego State.

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• Sticking with Division I but moving to soccer, Konawaena graduate Taiana Tolleson has been juggling goalkeeping duties with Lauren Demarchi and has played in all four matches with Vanderbilt. The junior has allowed two goals and made two saves, shutting out Miami for a half as the Commodores (3-1) came back to win 2-1.

• Kamehameha graduate Hevani Haunga, a freshman at UNLV, has played in all four of the Rebels’ matches so far, registering a assist in a season-opening win against the University of Illinois at Chicago.