Hawaii women’s volleyball: A Rainbow Wahine Thanksgiving story and anniversary

Former Wahine player Mahina Eleneki-Hugo and husband Todd Hugo hosted the Rainbow Wahine on Thanksgiving. / Photo by Cindy Luis

Thanks to islandman for a Twitter link from NCAA. On this day in 1998.

It will remain the longest match every played in the history of DI volleyball since it came under traditional scoring and not rally score. Teams ran out of subs at the ends of sets, Hawaii snuck its DS through the front row rotation (no libero) and Charlie Wade probably won the match when catching BYU in multiple overlaps, the Cougars were very confused about what lineup they should be in.
Was in Las Vegas covering at the MGM Grand Garden and we were told that the match was being put up on the Jumbotron at Aloha Stadium for football fans to watch. There were two papers then and the Star-Bulletin didn’t have a Sunday paper. Joked with Ann Miller of the Advertiser that she just might miss deadline if this went any longer.
Hawaii spent the morning in Waimanalo, making up plate lunches and taking them to homeless in Waimanalo.
The team, coaches, staff and some family and extended family were hosted by Wahine Mahina Eleneki-Hugo (1984-87) and husband Todd Hugo on their farm in Waimanalo. Unfortunately I lost the video I took of Mahina and Todd and their very big dog Uncle Charlie so will try to recap the best I can.
(I’m sure there will be photos on social media at some point.)
>> The couple has been doing this for about 15 years, seeing the need continue to grow. They started out of their Kailua home and now in Waimanalo after moving there about four years ago. The farm is very cool with goats and sheep and geese, and the constant crows of so many roosters.
They do it because they feel they’ve been given so much and want to give back. Mahina said that to the girls before the work started. Told the Wahine that their parents had given them so much to get them to where they are, just like her parents had done for her, and not to forget that. Always remember to give back.

It was a pretty efficient operation today. Most of the players spent time shredding the kalua turkeys. They weren’t done in an imu but think Todd called it an umu … above-ground smoker. There were assembly lines that put turkey, corn, rice, poke and a brownie in each container. 77 were made.
Food wasn’t just given to the homeless who are mostly in the tents at Waimanalo beach park. There is a group that lives in the “forest” and foil trays specifically marked for them were on the side. I think that’s what hit me the most, to see the trays marked for those others who weren’t being forgotten just because they weren’t at the beach park.

Something that also was touching was what Todd said. He thanked the girls, explaining about how much interaction they might have, but also said that even though these people were homeless they knew Wahine volleyball.

I had to leave but the players and all returned to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal and the generosity of Mahina and Todd.

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. nomu1001 November 28, 2019 4:37 pm

    Recently got a hold of VHS tapes for volleyball games which go as far back as Cheri Boyer, etc., up through Kim Willoughby, etc. When have time, will try to get these to digital. Just wafched some footage of UH – Nebraska match with KW, etc.. Wish they had HD back then.

  2. blunite November 28, 2019 4:43 pm

    I remember Mahina Eleneki (now Hugo) scoring a bunch of points, as OH against UCLA, on what Chris McLaughlin termed “sizzling the armpits” shots. A wisp of a girl somewhere between 5’7″ and 5’8″ who wore her “game face” during action. Quiet (as opposed to Tita Ahuna) but lethal. Considered undersized for an OH on the 1987 National Championship team.

  3. Bleachercoach November 28, 2019 6:09 pm

    Mahina and Todd are 2 of the most beautiful people that share the true meaning of ” Aloha!”
    Mahina was the true essence of the
    “Culture” of Rainbow Wahine Volleyball. She probably was the one of shortest OH to wear a Wahine Uniform but her heart and passion to play bigger than her size was evident. Todd was an All-State Selection Football player out of Kamehameha back in 1978. He was not only an outstanding athlete but even a more remarkable “Hawaiian” gentleman
    I personally know them both and they both really are two great people who know and exemplify the word, “Thanksgiving!”

  4. islandman November 28, 2019 6:39 pm

    Thanks to Cindy for the Thanksgiving story and also the info on the 1998 match. In the video, Hubbert, Roberts and Karratti were mentioned. An article on the 1998 team also lists names such as Ilustre, MIyashiro, Sudduth and Bown who had transferred from UCSB.

  5. Bleachercoach November 28, 2019 7:15 pm

    Yes ….Thank you Cindy for covering that wonderful story today in Waimanalo.

  6. Cindy Luis November 28, 2019 7:33 pm

    5. Have known Mahina since 1984 when she started playing for UH. Didn’t know until then that she was living a few blocks from us in Enchanted Lake. When I called to confirm that today would be in Waimanalo, she invited me to come help. Told them when I left that if I was around next year, I would come back. Really great people doing such a service.

  7. darkfire35 November 28, 2019 10:25 pm

    Much mahalos for the wonderful story Cindy!! It does my heart good knowing that the Wahine not only have learned what ohana and aloha is, but giving back to the community in a very real way. It will give them a sense of gratitude and pride that they are a real part of the Hawaii Ohana. I don’t know of any other team on the mainland that teaches their girls life lessons like these. Much mahalos Mahina and Todd! GO BOWS!!!

  8. Baby-Dude November 29, 2019 6:14 am

    What a nice story, amazing people to see what they are doing. Must be nice where they live with all the animals and getting up early with the roosters. Saw a video on Leslie Wilcox Long Story Short with Mahina. Really interesting, and had a family photo with her,Todd, and their three dogs. First time experience for some of the girls i bet.

  9. wahinefan87 November 29, 2019 2:39 pm

    Past Wahine opponent St. Johns is currently up two sets to none on #10 Creighton in the Big East Tournament Semifinal.

  10. Cindy Luis November 29, 2019 2:43 pm

    8. for some of the girls yes. At least on the farm. Last year, the Wahine and Warrior football team were in Waimanalo during preseason.
    9. Thanks. will update scores on new thread in a bit.

  11. Cindy Luis November 29, 2019 2:52 pm

    new thread up. Updating with T25 results

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