Catching up with Shoji, 50th anniversary Olympic teams, Kevin Wong

A couple of cool things have happened this week for Hawaii (state) volleyball.

The USAV recognized Kevin Wong as its outstanding male junior coach of the year and the 1964 pioneer Olympic volleyball teams’ 50th anniversary. The Tokyo Olympics were the first to have volleyball and the first to have a women’s team sport (volleyball)

Wong sited for his work with the state junior and high school beach program

Among those with Hawaii ties honored on the 50th anniversary were Pedro (Pete) Velasco, captain; former UHH coach Sharon Peterson; Verneda Thomas, who still refs; the late Gail O’Rourke Wong; and the late Mary Margaret Perry.

As for some of the things Shoji mentioned that didn’t make our story Thursday.

He said the talk around the Big West is that everyone will be better, especially Long Beach State. And that UCI is better.

Asked him about Tai’s Sunday commitment and that they only have one Sunday match. Said she won’t play on Sundays but that her status wasn’t a consideration when making the schedule. But said that Manu-Olevao needed to have a breakout year.

On Nikki Taylor: said she was going to take a lot of swings this year. not sure if she’ll be in the passing rotation.

Said the other OH would be up for grabs. Said it will be someone who hasn’t played a lot or one of the freshmen. Said that one position continues to be bothersome.

Did ask about Passi. Said she was in the mold of a Cubi-Otineru in how hard she swings and like Satele in terms of ball control. Undersized but powerful and needs to prove herself at DI.

Said the middles are proven in Adolpho and Magill. Said he loves his two incoming freshmen.

Koelisch will be the backup setter .. for now. may not be for the entire year. Also said they could run a 6-2. he likes his options to go bigger if needed.  Koelisch is 6-0, Higgins 5-9

As for libero, Mendoza is the front runner but Kahakai will have the opportunity to win the job.

Asked if he had a chance to win it all this year. Said every year there is optimism and they always have enough good players to do so.

It will be his 40th season. Said it was hard to believe but he felt good. Summer will be about camps and going to watch his sons play when possible. Kawika and Erik both with the national team currently in Bulgaria.

U.S. won tonight over host Bulgaria 3-2. Shoji had eight digs.

Also on the roster Micah Christenson, who made his international debut as setter tonight.




  1. haleiwacrossfitter May 23, 2014 8:01 pm

    I guess that answers that “rumors” of Tai going on a mission.

    Which position did he mean is bothersome? The right side or the OH2 position? It sounds as if he plans on Tai being in the starting rotation from the get go. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, Dave does have a history of starting the returnees at the beginning of the season until a freshman or newcomer beats them out during preseason. I do hope Tai has a breakout season and really, really, really steps it up. She needs to.

  2. Cindy Luis May 23, 2014 8:23 pm

    It’s hard to say if its RS or OH2 only because the OHs hit twice on the left, once on the right. and the RS hits twice on the right, once on the left.
    Much depends on what they do with Taylor. She is assuming Hartong’s role in that she’ll be taking the majority of swings. whether she does it from the right or left not sure. think they’re going to look at what else they have during fall camp.
    If Magill is as athletic as she appears I see her running a lot of slides, which give them another right-side attack as happened with Kaufman.

  3. Kalalea May 23, 2014 8:48 pm

    Off topic, but nice to see/hear you were interviewed (with Mahina) for “Rise of the Wahine”. You (and Ann) have played an important role in the history of the Wahine and their popularity. I’m so looking forward to this film and hope it will move beyond a Hawai’i audience as it’s truly a wonderful story- here’s to Patsy Mink, Title IX, Dr. Donnis Thompson, Pat Saiki, Dave Shoji, and, of course, the beloved Wahine!
    For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, check out and please consider supporting the documentary!

  4. Cindy Luis May 23, 2014 9:17 pm

    It was an honor and appreciate being asked. They had been using a lot of my Title IX series from 2002 for background and said they wanted to give a voice to the words. And that it made sense for me to speak them.
    I think you have to also cheer the fans of Hawaii who supported the Wahine over the decades.

  5. Hot May 23, 2014 9:54 pm

    2. Have they ever put their most prolific player on the right? Aren’t all their top attackers on the left due to passing, etc. Shoji’s system usually has his top two attackers on the left and No. 3 on the right. Unless they are true opposites like Otineru (although I don’t think she took more swings than the two LS) or Satele (averaged more kills than Waber).

  6. Cindy Luis May 23, 2014 10:14 pm

    It seemed to me that when they had Kahumoku and Willoughby that Kamana’o had plenty of options at the pins.

  7. Cindy Luis May 23, 2014 10:15 pm

    and it is interesting how the men’s game using opposites much more than the women’s game. Clay Stanley and Umlauft come to mind as former Warriors.

  8. Hot May 24, 2014 5:35 am

    6. & 7. Yep, in the men’s game (and Brazil’s Shiella Castro is a dominant opposite) but that’s not how Shoji runs his system. Kahumoku and Willoughby were both LS, Tano was on the right. Tano was the No. 5 option on offense behind Willoughby, Kahumoku, Gustin and Duggins.

    Also, will Koelsch be on scholarship? I ask only because Shoji mentioned her. He usually does not talk specifics about walk-ons until they are enrolled. Are Guinasso and Anderson confirmed walk-ons for indoor as well?

  9. Hot May 24, 2014 5:44 am

    Also, what did he mean by Koelsch being the backup setter for now and maybe not for the entire year? Is there a third setter this season? Will Koelsch transition to hitter? Is she not good enough that he doesn’t foresee her getting playing time (even as a backup setter) for the entire year? Will she be concentrating more on sand?

  10. Ron May 24, 2014 6:48 am

    I would guess by the way Dave mentioned it that it means that Koelsch has a chance to be the starter. This will be a very deep team and competition will be fierce. If Tai does step it up, the battle for L2 will be epic.

  11. Cindy Luis May 24, 2014 7:07 am

    9-10. Yes, Ron is correct. he was saying that Koelisch is slated as the backup for the moment but they’ll have to see what happens in camp. They may go to a 6-2 as stated. He never said anything about her being a bitter. The semester is over so he’s talking about her. Not sure if she’s on scholarship.
    8. as for Anderson and Guinasso, if they are on sand scholarship they can’t walk on for indoors.

  12. LC May 24, 2014 7:08 am

    *** ” Koelisch will be the backup setter .. for now. may not be for the entire year.”

    When Dave speaks he’s often not very clear in what he means by what he says and it requires a follow up question. For example at first I took it as Higgins could lose her #1 status to Kendra and become the backup setter because she might be better than Higgins.

  13. Brandon May 24, 2014 9:30 am

    I hope Dave runs a 6-2 because both koelsch and higgins are way to good to sit the bench

  14. meimei May 24, 2014 12:33 pm

    IMHO… I hope he starts Kalei OH2 over Tai… not bashing but just hoping that the best is on the court. Although Tai will have 2 seasons over the fresh coming in… Nikki proved to be a better starter as the season progressed and earned a starting spot. I believe Kalei is as well. I just hope Tai does have a break out season and has improved in leaps and bounds.

  15. Hot May 24, 2014 2:50 pm

    12. Agree. It never entered my mind that Koelsch was in the picture to start. I mean, she was originally a sand-only recruit, right? And I thought Higgins was the anointed one to start, much like Mafua, Uiato, etc. That’s why I brought up all those questions/possibilities, because it never occurred to me that she could beat out Higgins for a starting job. I thought she was brought in as a replacement for Goodman, who would essentially be a backup.

  16. Wop ur jaws May 24, 2014 3:05 pm

    Kendra Koelsch is not a back up player. Watching her play, she is actually a born leader with comfort-ability, she can run the offense very capably. Able to hit and block like a true opposite. A blue chip recruit. Hannah Rooks of the Sand Wahine also is a very skilled indoor player. A blue chipper as well.

  17. Cindy Luis May 24, 2014 3:06 pm

    14. it will play out in the gym. we’ll see how Kalei handles the college game and the spotlight.
    15. just passing along what Shoji said. he’s keeping his options open. as for Higgins being the ‘anointed one’ I don’t know about that. She does have one year experience over anyone coming in to knowing UH’s offense. But there’s going to be a number of new players being set to.
    I think the 6-2 gives them some real good options depending on who else is in the blocking scheme in the front row. I do think that Taylor will be used a lot at the 3-meter attack. Haven’t seen the newcomers so can’t speak to that.

  18. Cindy Luis May 24, 2014 3:08 pm

    16. remains to be seen if she starts or not. The sand players, including Rooks, are very skilled indoor players as well.

  19. Brandon May 24, 2014 5:38 pm

    Is Dave gonna consider tai for the OPP spot? Or is passi the only one in the running right now

  20. yume May 24, 2014 6:07 pm

    Greeley will start at OH2. Tai at RS, a position where she was comfortably playing her best. There are a few players who can take over the match, as Hartong has and now Nikki Taylor can. Kalei Greeley has that ability, watching her play her junior year (injured most of her senior year) and top level club up to the present. Powerful and has all the shots, she just needs to gain the confidence of playing top level D1 programs. Shoji as usual will be cautious to bring her up to D1 play, but she will prove herself as the Fall season progresses.

  21. yume May 24, 2014 6:11 pm

    19. Knowing Dave he most likely will start Tai at season’s start. Keani Passi will have to prove herself to be a better option before she starts over Tai. All what I have stated in 20. and here is my own observations and opinion.

  22. Cindy Luis May 24, 2014 9:27 pm

    20-21. Don’t see Manu-Olevao as the RS, I do see Passi over there.
    We’ll see where Greeley fits in.

  23. Cindy Luis May 24, 2014 9:29 pm

    19. I think he’ll see what he’s got come fall camp. As have mentioned many times the LS hit twice on the left, once on the right. RS twice on the right, once on the left. That is if they stay to the same offense.

  24. Brandon May 24, 2014 10:12 pm

    23. Thanks cindy! Dave can be stubborn at times when it comes to line ups, but he knows best and knows how to win. Excited to see what camps offer and who shines.

    20-21. Passi is an excellent player that I see making an immediate impact. Yeah she only played a JC but she was the JC player of the year for a reason.
    Excited to see if mitchem comes in 2015! We would have 2 jc poy on our team

  25. yume May 25, 2014 12:39 am

    At last season’s end, Shoji started Hartong and Taylor on the LS and Olevao on the RS. Tai in my observation contributed the most from the RS position. A .200 hitting pct just won’t cut it as a L2 for a Shoji dominant LS offensive system. Hartong and Taylor were hovering around the .280-.300 range all season. Unless Tai can bring her pct up to the .240+ range I don’t see her taking the number of swings that the LS in the Shoji system does, and have a positive contribution with that low percentage.

  26. Lomilomi May 25, 2014 12:48 am

    Shoji said “Higgy was the bows setter of the future & the next great local setter” when announcing her signing. That sounds like annoiting her the #1 setter.
    Anyhow Higgy was ranked #19 by Prep Volleyball Magazine. Does anyone know if Koelsch was even ranked?

  27. al May 25, 2014 12:52 am

    I love the “rise of the wahine” vignette. it surely needed to be told.

    I was hoping that a small portion would have been devoted to Richard “Longy” Okamoto who developed the first all girls sports program in Hawaii. His Kamalii Manaloa volleyball club did so much for the young girls of Hawaii. the Wahine program with the likes of Toni Nishida, the Robins’ ohana ,Robyn Ah Mow and many other former Wahine also benefitted immensely from his tutelage.

    Not to mention the countless others who were recruited by junior colleges, DI, DII, programs and the like all over the nation through his assistance to help them find a college program. He would take them to many a mainland tournament just for their benefit to get that kind of exposure. Often spending his own money to help a girl out.

    The club still lives on and now includes boys as well even though my uncle is long gone.

  28. Hot May 25, 2014 12:55 am

    25. I agree about Olevao. Last year she was just another body on the court because there was nobody else available. Much like Michelle Waber in 2010, who was a true freshman and had to start (not technically, as Emily Maeda started for her) because there were no other left-side hitters. I also believe Shoji saw some potential in her and would eventually be at least a workhorse-type left-side, but he was forced to start her because there was nobody else. He did have Hartong, but they needed her more in the middle. It’s possible Olevao can still pull out a breakout year. She still has two seasons left.

  29. Ron May 25, 2014 8:42 am

    Just from watching her warm up last year, I think Passi has a good chance to start on the rt. Her pipe shot from the back row would be deadly. Cindys point about Magill being effective on the slide could change the thinking as to whether or not you need a blocker or a hitter on the rt. Dave and crew will figure it out. This will be a challenge worth waiting for.

  30. Ki May 25, 2014 9:20 am

    Kendra Koelsch may NOT be the back up setter for long because with her versatility, she maybe starting at OPP. I can see Hawaii running a 6-2 IF Dave has the OH’s to do the job (hitting and passing).

    Nikki Taylor OH ???
    Kalei Adolpho MB Olivia Magill
    Kendra Koelsch OPP/S Tayler Higgins/ Keani Passi
    ?? LIB

  31. LC May 25, 2014 9:39 am

    Club teams of Megan Huff (PSVBA 18-Joe) and Emily Maglio (Ducks 18-1) both at the Emerald City Classic @ UW this weekend. Live Streaming for all matches. Actually saw Maglio ( # 18 ) hitting from the LS & RS for the first time in one match.

    Have yet to see Huff ( # 15 ) in two matches that I have watched so far.

    Stream Link –

  32. Cubicle1126 May 25, 2014 10:42 am

    it’s way early, and shoji can only name as “possible starters” who he currently has on the roster. it’s tough to fight the urge to over-analyze just these briefs comments from shoji in the off-season, but it’s tough not to, i know.

    it goes without saying that we have to see how the freshmen perform. although shoji has identified players on the existing roster, the brief quotes from him suggest also there is room for the newcomers to earn a spot as well. shoji has shown a tendency to pencil in prior starters, but we’ve also seen numerous times when freshmen have grabbed a starting spot, when they’ve truly shown they’re ready to play right away.

    the one snippet from shoji that i’m concerned about is his statement that passi “swings” like otineru, and has “ball control” like satele. the problem with that assessment is that satele was never a primary passer. i’d be more assured if he had said the reverse — that passi has otineru’s ball control (which was solid), and hits like satele (who, like otineru, hit a heavy ball). but we’ll see. like many other fans, i’m looking forward to seeing her play.

  33. Cubicle1126 May 25, 2014 10:51 am

    yume — taylor never “started” on the left side last season. hartong and olevao were always the left side starters. taylor was always at opposite, it’s just that at the end of the season, taylor was just asked to make more swings on the left, even when taylor and olevao were in the front row together in a given rotation.

  34. Cindy Luis May 25, 2014 11:07 am

    29. they are not looking at Koelisch as a hitter. it is as a setter, which is why he mentioned running a 6-2.
    31. he didn’t really talk about starters other than to say Taylor would be taking the majority of swings and that they were solid in the middle with Adolpho and Magill. He is waiting to see what happens in camp.
    25-32. I believe that there were a few times that the starting rotation had Taylor on the left. But that was because of how the matceups where. She was on the left for one rotation then moved over to the right for 2.
    Yume, Taylor and Manu-Olevao are not competing for the same position.

  35. yume May 25, 2014 11:29 am

    What I saw at season’s end was Taylor on the left for two rotations and right for one, then went back to serve and play the back row.
    Cindy when did I ever mention that Taylor and Olevao were competing for the same position?

  36. rayson May 25, 2014 11:56 am

    Yume is right. Towards the end of the season Taylor and Manu-Olevao swapped positions. Manu-Olevao played opposite the setter and Mendoza played back row for her. Taylor was moved to the LS and played opposite Hartong.

  37. Cubicle1126 May 25, 2014 12:11 pm

    cindy — the OP sounds like shoji was talking about possible starters (for example that mendoza was the front runner for libero, among other things summarized above). maybe that wasn’t the direction of the discussion with shoji, but i think underlying any discussion about players (even in the off season) will have implications on who will be potentially be starting.

  38. Cubicle1126 May 25, 2014 12:17 pm

    yume & rayson, it’s very easy to check. all the matches are online on youtube. although taylor was asked to take more swings on the left when she and olevao were front row together … taylor was always in the lineup as opposite and olevao as L2.

  39. Jessica May 25, 2014 1:00 pm

    Cubicle1126 is correct regarding Taylor as the OPP and Olevao as the OH2.
    This past season, Olevao always lined up opposite of Hartong (the OH1) as the OH2, and Taylor always lined up opposite of Uiato as the OPP. Traditionally, the OPP always serves right before the OH2 in the rotation. So, in Hawaii’s case, Mendoza (who served for Taylor, the OPP) always served before Olevao (the OH2). When the “switch” occurred, Taylor (still the OPP) now served after Mendoza (who was now serving/playing backrow for Olevao, who was technically still considered the OH2). It wasn’t the “traditional” rotation anymore. So instead of the typical serving rotation being S-OH1-MB2-OPP-OH2-MB1, it was now S-MB1-OH2-OPP-MB2-OH1 after the “switch”. And Cindy, if I’m not mistaken, in the “traditional” rotation, only the OH1 has to hit on the right for one rotation on serve-receive, but the OH2 never does because they usually stack the left side on serve receive with the MB1 and the setter. This is why we never saw Olevao (the OH2) hit on the right during serve-receive in the “traditional” rotation before the switch occurred. Only Hartong (the OH1) did.

  40. bowsfan May 25, 2014 1:43 pm

    Who is Shayla Hixson, her name is on the UH website as a Wahine volleyball grad. Never heard of her.

  41. uhfan May 25, 2014 2:23 pm

    ^ She was on the sand team

  42. yume May 25, 2014 3:12 pm

    All of the matches are online, except the 1st/2nd round matches with Idaho St and BYU. Nikki Taylor was LOH2 and Tai RS in both matches. Nikki proved to be an improvement over Olevao on serve/receive, serving, and 3-meter attacks at seasons end, prompting Shoji to make the change.

  43. formerlywarriorfan May 25, 2014 3:25 pm

    I think it was a mistake for Manu-Olevao to skip the beach season this year. It helped her a lot last year and she needs all the help she can get to improve her all around game.

  44. Cindy Luis May 25, 2014 4:53 pm

    43. her choice. But the indoor team trained on sand for dome of the spring conditions.
    It isn’t easy to commit to two sports. Plus she doesn’t play on Sundays and there a number of competitions on Sundays. Wouldn’t have been fair to her, the team or her partner to basically be a part-time player.

  45. Cindy Luis May 25, 2014 5:02 pm

    35. sorry Yume, meant to type that Manu-Olevao and Passi do not play the same position.
    Or at least that’s not what they’re looking at for them. Passi is a RS, Manu-Olevao was at L2.
    at No. 21 you wrote that Passi will have to prove herself before she starts over Tai.

  46. Hot May 25, 2014 5:09 pm

    41. If you check the play-by-play (I only checked the last three matches), Olevao was still rotating opposite Hartong, and Taylor rotated opposite Uiato. In the last two matches, the serving rotation was Uiato (RS) – Longo (M) – Mendoza for Olevao (LS) – Taylor (RS), – Lelepali (M) – Hartong (LS).

  47. Cubicle1126 May 25, 2014 8:53 pm

    yume — i’ll stand by what i said and also refer to hot’s comments above.

    also, the byu and idaho st matches are online on youtube, check out UHVolleyBallFanToo’s youtube account. 🙂

  48. rayson May 25, 2014 10:43 pm

    Yeah, you guys a right. I think when Mendoza started coming in for Manu-Olevao instead of Taylor and started played back center I thought they (Taylor and Manu-Olevao) had swapped positions.

  49. WahineLady May 26, 2014 12:03 am

    Just to let everyone know that the tickets are on sale for the USAV vs Brazil matches on July 11 & 12. They are on sale at They went on sale this afternoon. Site was busy.

  50. LC May 26, 2014 8:06 am

    *** Update on Emerald City Classic @ UW . Both teams of Maglio and Huff are in the Silver Bracket,which is underway on court 1.

    I finally spotted Huff,she’s not in uniform and is wearing what looks like a walking type cast on her right lower leg. Maglio’s team meets Huff’s team next, scheduled for around 9:15 am HST.

    I’m not really interested in who wins,just wanted to get a better handle on the individual skills with both of our players but now it will only be Maglio.

  51. Brandon May 26, 2014 9:06 am

    49 Hows maglio been playing. Is she still the go to girl? Haven’t been able to catch it.

    Also 2015 recruit casey castillo is now playing MB with her wave team and doing amazing.

  52. yume May 26, 2014 9:18 am

    Yeah I can see that now. Thanks 39. Jessica for the clear explanation of the non-traditional serving rotation. Your post must have been stucked in spam, and posted after my 42. post. It seemed like the hitting position’s were switched with Mendoza coming in for Olevao, instead of Taylor.
    49. LC, I saw the walking cast too. I hope she’s ready and in shape to compete when two a days come in August.

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