Bobbi-Lin Kalama knows where she's headed for college volleyball. Pakalana Helekahi will know soon enough.
Kalama, a Kamehameha Schools Maui senior setter, has verbally committed to a full scholarship to Siena College, an NCAA Division I school in Loudonville, N.Y. - she will take two Maui Interscholastic League Division I Player of the Year awards with her, including the 2012 prize.
"It is surprising. It is an honor to be chosen again," Kalama said. "I would have thought that someone else would get it, but knowing that my hard work pays off, it just feels great to have."
Pakalana Helekahi helped Hana High School reach the state tournament this year, the Dragons’ first appearance since 2005.
RICH YOUNG photo
Kalama and fellow first-team All-Stars Sienna Davis and Leimana Kane finished their Kamehameha careers 56-1 in MIL play - this year's team had eight seniors - and made an appearance in the state semifinals in 2011. Kamehameha junior Taylor Awai, Baldwin's Olivia Wallace, Maui High's Sulieti Hifo and King Kekaulike's Taylor Fernandez round out the D-I first team.
"It was our same team from last year, so we all had that bond," said the 5-foot-8 Kalama. "Knowing that we are friends on and off the court keeps us together on the court. Knowing the other seniors, that it was our last year, we had fun with it. We took the games seriously, but we knew it was our last year and we had to have fun, too.
"I'm going to miss them a lot, because we were together for so long. We are still close, but without playing volleyball with them it is going to be different. And having a family like them on the court, it's like a sisterhood that we have on the court. I will miss them a lot."
Helekahi, a 5-foot-9 middle blocker for Hana, found out about her MIL Division II Player of the Year award at a leadership conference for Maui County students Thursday at Maui High. Helekahi is also Hana's student body president and led the Dragons to their first state tournament appearance since 2005, behind league champion and state runner-up Seabury Hall.
"I was surprised because I thought it was going to be one of the Seabury girls because we didn't win MIL champs," Helekahi said. "And I was just, like, all smiles the whole time."
Helekahi is joined on the MIL D-II first team by the Dragons' Shalen-Brae Hoopai and Jaynalee Hoopai, Sea-bury's Amy Ozee and Lena Fox, Molokai's Taylor Keliihoomalu and St. Anthony's Treyanna Freitas.
Helekahi, who volunteers two times a week teaching volleyball skills to Hana middle- and grade-schoolers, said she wants to play at a California school, probably at the NCAA Division II level.
The team's success played large in East Maui.
"Our community was behind us 100 percent," Helekahi said. "At our first game, we went to the gym and there were over 100 people. I only recognized about three people, but that felt like the support of my whole community. I was just so happy to make it to states."
The Dragons advanced to the state quarterfinals.
"I wouldn't have made it this far without my team," Helekahi said. "We were really close and they helped me with everything."
The Warriors senior class helped boost the school's MIL title streak to eight.
"I'm going to miss them quite a bit, they have done a lot for this program," said Kamehameha coach Bala Spencer, the MIL D-I coach of the Year. "They have paved the way for a lot of the younger girls: What to do, what not to do, how to deal with adversity, stuff like that. It's a really good group."
St. Anthony coach Al Paschoal is the D-II MIL Coach of the Year after leading the upstart Trojans to a 6-4 regular-season mark and the league tournament semifinals.
"I can't express how proud I am of our girls this year," Paschoal said. "They committed from day one, we put a ton of time in in the preseason, countless hours of technique in the gym. We needed to learn behavior and I give them so much credit because they never backed down from a challenge all year long and we were going against perennial powerhouses like Seabury, Hana and Molokai. To see these girls perform when it really mattered was so outstanding. It was a great season for St. Anthony and even better for the girls who committed."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org