The Maui News 2013 MIL Volleyball All-Star Team
One stands 5-foot-10, the other 5-2, but Patty Batoon and Shalen-Brae Hoopai have more in common than meets the eye.
Batoon, a senior middle blocker for Kamehameha Schools Maui, and Hana’s Hoopai, a senior outside hitter-middle blocker, are the Maui Interscholastic League players of the year for girls volleyball.
Both learned from and follow in the footsteps of last season’s players of the year, which are chosen by the MIL coaches.
Batoon joins a list of MIL Division I players of the year from Kamehameha that includes NCAA Division I players Kayla-Al Kaluau (Syracuse), Ginger Long (Hawaii) and Bobbi-Lin Kalama (Siena).
“It feels great to know that I am worthy of something that they have been a part of,” Batoon said. “And it’s very humbling as well.”
Batoon watched Kalama win back-to-back MIL player of the year nods, both as a competitor and in practice – she transferred to Kamehameha at the beginning of her junior year from Maui High and had to sit out last season by league rule.
Kalama was one of four Warriors who signed to play in college after last season.
“I learned a lot, especially from Bobbi, who I actually got to play with,” Batoon said. “They were all hard workers, so I knew if I put in the time, I could have the same outcome as well.
“(Kalama) was very humble and I kind of look at that as a very good trait to have – she was so good and she was so humble at the same time.”
Batoon is joined on the D-I first team by teammates Taylor Awai, Charity Sadang and Shalia Kamakaokalani, King Kekaulike’s Kalia Aguera and Treyanna Freitas, and Maui High’s Sulieti Hifo. Awai and Hifo are repeat selections from last season, while Freitas was a first-team D-II all-star for St. Anthony.
Lahainaluna’s Lei Nakamura is the choice of her peers as MIL D-I Coach of the Year.
Batoon played in a state beach tournament last month for Seabury Hall coach Scottie Zucco, the D-II coach of the year.
“I got a chance to see a couple of (D-I) games and from whatever I saw, whenever the girl (Batoon) would touch the ball she would find a kill,” Zucco said. “She is so terminal with the ball. A super-high jumper, well over nine feet, just short of 10.
“I got a chance to work with her recently and holy smokes, what a fantastic kid. Super bright, quick to catch on to everything, always did all of her homework and preparation. Always gave it her best, whether it was practice or game. She is going to make a college coach happy.”
Hoopai is joined on the D-II first team by her sister, Jaynalee, Sea-bury Hall’s Kiki Leuteneker, Amy Ozee, Gabby Ratte and Sophie Janssen, and Molokai’s Taylor Keliihoomalu. Both Hoopais, Keliihoo-malu and Ozee are repeat selections.
Shalen-Brae Hoopai follows former Hana teammate Pakalana Helekahi as MIL D-II Player of the Year.
“Leadership and staying focused,” Hoopai said of traits she learned from Helekahi.
Helekahi, who started for Ashford University of Clinton, Iowa, as a freshman, emphasized the importance of the team’s success for the community. The Dragons’ second consecutive trip to the state tournament stirred the same emotions for Hoopai.
“We think about our family and our community when we play,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s over – I’m going to miss it a lot.”
Zucco said that Shalen-Brae Hoopai may be small in stature, but that doesn’t hold her back.
“Shucks, whenever we play them she always seemed to rise up to whatever level of big game we were playing,” he said. “Any time we played Hana it was always some sort of very tough game. She’s always so athletic. You know that phrase, ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog.’
“This girl would go up against trees and her fight was always as big as whatever she was going up against. It was always fun to go against Hana and she was always their leader, super athletic, never give up. . . . There wasn’t a coach in the MIL who wouldn’t salivate to have a kid like that.”