Kaawaloa, Vulcans go out in style with sweep

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald In her final match as a UH-Hilo Vulcan, Taira Kaawaloa led the way with 13 kills on .650 hitting Sunday.

Hawaii Pacific’s Emily Joseph went up for a spike only to be stuffed by Ashton Jessee and Kendall Kott, so on the next point she tried again. No luck, not with Jessee and Alexandria Parisian rejecting her this time.

Joseph could only shrug.


On the ensuing point, Bria Beale blasted a ball that sent libero Makenzie Fa’amausili-Cacoulidis diving across the court. A nice effort, but it was all in vain, as was everything else the Sharks tried during a matinee that was marked by UH-Hilo’s machine-like efficiency.

After a series of marathon five-setters, the Vulcans showed they had no intentions of messing around Sunday, finishing off HPU 25-12, 25-16, 25-23 to put the wraps on a 14-2 spring season.

“It felt really good to not go five (sets),” Beale said. “We’re used to playing HPU, so we were comfortable playing them and it felt good to end on a high note for ‘T.’ She had a great game.

“We got it done easy so we could spend more time celebrating. We want to celebrate ‘T.’ ”

Beale was stellar as usual with 12 kills and 10 digs, but as she and the Vulcans’ bench will tell you, this was “T time.”

Taira Kaawaloa, the only graduating Vulcans player who doesn’t plan to return in the fall, put down 13 kills, one off her career high, on .650 hitting, with nine digs.

“I have great teammates and we work together and support each other,” said Kaawaloa, who finished the spring third on the Vulcans in kills per set (2.02) and digs per set (2.79). “We all do well together to make it a success.”

After playing three matches that went five sets and lasted two-plus hours each the past two days, the Vulcans wrapped up this one up in a tidy hour and 20 minutes.

Might Kaawaloa have wanted the match to last just a tad longer to extend her career.

“Absolutely not,” said Kaawaloa, who was able to enjoy a traditional on-court senior day moment with her parents, Deirdre and Patrick Kaawaloa of Kailua, Oahu. “Absolutely not.”

Kaawaloa said she would love to come back in the fall – when the Pacific West Conference is expected to sponsor a championship season, but “I have priorities,” she said. “I don’t want to put my life on pause for volleyball.”

During this makeshift season after a suspended 2020 fall campaign, the Vuls put one of their priorities on development. Winning was a benefit. Their only losses came in the fifth set, both by two points.

“I think that our success this season is going to breed a lot of confidence,” Beale said. “We’re supposed to be going to the mainland and play the California teams again. I think it will be good that we’re getting a lot of chemistry and a lot of the girls are returning.”

Perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that the finale was quick and easy, though the Sharks (3-12) did beat Anchorage in three sets earlier in the day.

UHH finished 7-0 against HPU, with the last five coming in sweeps. Parisian put down aloha ball for her eighth kill, and Jessee finished with six blocks.

Joseph contributed 10 kills and 10 digs, but the Sharks were outhit .404-.106.


Kaawaloa had the biggest hand in that gaudy attack percentage.

“She’s had a great year for us overall, but she was on fire,” coach Chris Leonard said. “We got her some balls and she was able to take care of business and it was a nice way to finish.”