Q&A: Kamehameha’s Keonilei and Braelyn Akana

Kamehameha volleyball players and sisters Keonilei, left, and Braelyn Akana get to play one last season together. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Braelyn Akana insists that she is 5-foot-10.

She’s actually 5-11, and either way, she will never stop working toward her dreams. One of them is already coming true for the Kamehameha senior. She will play volleyball for Hawaii next season.

At 5-foot-9 and skilled in every possible way on the volleyball court, Keonilei Akana is a trusty part of any coach’s team.

She just happens to be a key cog for the defending state champion Kamehameha Warriors.

“Ke is so versatile,” Warriors coach Chris Blake said. “She’s another one who makes everything look so easy. It kind of gets overlooked. She has so much court sense, always in the right place at the right time. She’s a huge asset for our team.”

The Akana sisters, who were featured in Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser, which you can read here, chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Sunday. Though they have different tastes in music, they’re tight as can be. Kamehameha, ranked No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Girls Volleyball Top 10, is the defending state champion.

All the hard work, the constant commute from Hauula to town, has paid off with scholarship offers. Keonilei has accepted an offer from USC.

“We’ve been in the gym for the last seven years. They will reap the blessings from all the things they sacrificed,” said their father, Brandyn Akana. “At the next level, they’re going to need that commitment even more. Hopefully, we’ve prepared them to do that. When they were really young, they’d go at each other, but toward intermediate, high school, they’ve grown really close. We’re happy for that.”

The interview videos with the sisters are posted below.

Here’s the Q&A’s from each:

Name: Braelyn Akana
School sport: Volleyball 
Class: Senior

Q&A / Favorites

Athlete: Kendra Dahlke (outside hitter at U of A) 

Team: Lakers 

Food (at home): Steak with Quinoa 

Food (eating out): Fettuccine at Buca De Bepo and Olive Garden. I like the Olive Garden one.

Hobby outside of sports: Photography 

Movie: The Vow

TV show: The Office 

Video game: IPhone Cup Pong 

Music artist: Blake Shelton 

Teacher (elementary through high school):  Mr. Byron Kawai (US History) 

GPA: 3.7

Class: College Writing 

Place to relax: Kamehameha trainers room

Motto/scripture: “It doesn’t matter if a million people tell you what you can’t do, or if ten million tell you no. If you get one yes from God that’s all you need.” —Tyler Perry 

What your mom (Joselyn Akana) says that you can’t forget: “Stay focused, be positive, and play  together!”

What your dad (Brandyn Akana) says that you can’t forget: “Always stay together and watch over your sister.”

What your coaches say that you can’t forget: “Trust the Process and grind it out” — Chris Blake 

How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
“There are a lot of sacrifices that has to be made. Missing many social activities, to recover, go to practice, play in tournaments, and attend tutoring/studying.”

What middle and elementary schools did you attend?  
“I attended Hauula Elementary, and HTA for middle school.”

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
Manoa Beach Volleyball Club. Coached by Danny Alvarez, Kaleo Baxter and Ginger Long. Daily commitments made are driving from the North Shore to Honolulu and back. #MBB

Where have you travelled for your sport(s)?
All over the country! 

What do you like to do — or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
I love to listen to country music!! 

What is your ultimate dream/bucket list? Where would you like to travel, what life would you like to have as an athlete? And away from sports? 
I would like to travel to Paris, France and visit the Eiffel Tower. 
If my body allows me, I would like to play overseas! 
Raising a family. 

What is the history and background of your name?
My name is a combination of my dad, Brandyn, and my mom, Joselyn’s names.

Kamehameha’s Keonilei, left, and Braelyn Akana will attempt to lead the Warriors to a second consecutive state championship. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Name: Keonilei Akana
School sport: Volleyball
Class: 2020

Q&A / Favorites

Athlete: Nicole Davis (Former Olympian)

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Food (at home): Chicken and Quinoa

Food (eating out): Seven Brothers

Hobby outside of sports: Drawing

Movie: Mama Mia and Suicide Squad 

TV show: I don’t watch a lot of Netflix so I don’t have one 

Video game: 1010 

Music artist: Ty Dolla $ign

Teacher (elementary through high school): Renee Kaneakua at Kamehameha Middle Kapālama 

GPA: 3.7

Class: English and Arts

Place to relax: Kamehameha trainers room

Motto/scripture: “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back. Play for her.” —Mia Hamm

What your mom (Joselyn) says that you can’t forget: 
“Stand tall, be grateful, and stay positive.”

What your dad (Brandyn) says that you can’t forget: 
“”Be smart. Don’t bring home (a boy) below 6-3… 6-4.”

What your coaches say that you can’t forget: 
“Focus on the little things”

How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
It affects what I eat and I miss social activities to prepare to make sure I have the right amount of rest for my games  

What middle and elementary schools did you attend? 
I attended Sunset Beach Elementary school from second to sixth grade and have been attending Kamehameha since seventh grade.

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round? 
I currently play for Mānoa Beach Volleyball Club that is coached by Danny Alvarez, Kaleo Baxter, and Ginger Long. A year round commitment is to always look for ways to get better.

Where have you travelled for your sport(s)? 
We travel four to five times a year.  Some places we have traveled to are Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona.

What do you like to do — or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
I like to draw on my free time when I have the chance.  It’s something I enjoyed doing when I was young 

What is your ultimate dream/bucket list? Where would you like to travel, what life would you like to have as an athlete? And away from sports? 
After college I plan on planning professional volleyball. 
On my bucket list, I’ve always wanted to visit Bora Bora, Tahiti with my sister. In the future, I want to raise a family and be successful.  

What is the history and background of your name?
My parents named my sister and I by combining both of their names.  My dad’s middle name is Keoni and my mom’s name is Lei.  The translation is “John’s Lei” or “John’s Love” meaning that I will always be my father’s love.

COMMENTS

  1. SpamandRice September 11, 2018 9:36 am

    Great Sisters, Great Athletes… Good luck on your future endeavors.


  2. Notes September 11, 2018 2:29 pm

    Awesome!


  3. TooMeke September 12, 2018 6:19 am

    Right on. Good job girls… and good job Brandyn & Joselyn!


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