Damien sends Don Faumuina off with state championship

Damien coach Don Faumuina finished his fifth and final year with the Monarchs with a 16-1 record and ILH and state titles. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Don Faumuina has gotten a lot of attention lately.

Friends. Fans. That’s what a retirement announcement can do. When Damien swept Waimea 25-19, 25-11, 25-14 in the Division II final of the New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball State Championships on Saturday night, history was made. Faumuina saw the rise of Lady Monarch volleyball as his squad finished his fifth and final season with a 16-1 record, replete with ILH and state crowns.

Damien played, maybe, its best match of the season in the finale. Balance. Defense front and back. Precise serving. A hunger to finish strong after coming close in years past. Seniors Rayne Pactol (10 kills), Kaira Wengler (eight kills) and Pili Kekipi-Nuuanu (six kills) were clutch, as was Julia Tilton at serve. Junior Kaulana Kalulu-Sugai (22 assists, 16 digs, two aces, three kills) and Lala Campbell (six kills) were relentless.

It was the kind of crescendo in this match, as Damien asserted dominance, that had Faumuina in observance mode as he stood by his bench.

“I’m just enjoying the moment. Sometimes, you’ve got to sit there and enjoy the moment, no matter what happens. It was in our favor and one of those things I’ll never forget,” he said.

He could also see a bit of his program across the hardwood in Waimea. First-year coach Brandi Hori Moises guided her team to a 12-0 mark in KIF play, and the Menehunes got past University and Hawaii Prep in grueling, five-set matches before reaching the final.

“They looked like they were tired. It’s their first time being here in the Blaisdell and playing with a new team. Hat’s off to their coaches, being this is their first year and making it all the way to the state championship finals,” Faumuina said.

One of the key differences was at serve. Damien finished with a 6-2 edge in aces, but it was an ace-free 9-0 run triggered by Tilton that did the most damage in game two.

Damien outside hitter Heavenly Campbell (11) celebrated with teammates after closing out Waimea to win the state title. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

“We did our homework. We knew what our assignments were. We knew who we had to serve and what we had to focus on. It worked out for us,” Faumuina said. “Our service coach, George Ehia, he was really crucial and key at calling the serves, and the girls were able to hit ‘em. They were able to hit those assignments.”

The road to the final wasn’t as easy as it may have looked on paper.

“It’s been tough. We’e had better matches. The tournament play for us, the opponents were tough. Kalani did a great job, they had great defense and we were able to pull that out,” Faumuina said. “Then we played Seabury. That went to five. That was our toughest match of the season, definitely. They laid it all out and we were able to get that run, just that little burst of energy we need to get.”

Ella Connor, Seabury Hall’s 6-foot-1 junior, had 39 kills against Damien in the semifinals.

“Ella is amazing. Phenomenal. She’s key to them. We really had to focus on her. Just switching up our defense where we wanted her to hit to a certain spot, where our defenders would be able to pick up her balls. We were successful sometimes, then we were able to figure it out in the fifth set,” Faumuina said.

Faumuina will set his sights on family. A son will soon be in senior year. His job at HPD, work in the union, will take priority. There will be nothing, though, like coaching the Damien Lady Monarchs.

“The girls. The camaraderie. The coaches. That’s what I’ll miss the most,” he said.


Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Oct. 23Konawaena vs. McKinleyMcK 25-16, 23-25, 18-25, 25-20, 15-11Kaimuki
2Oct. 23Kalani vs. La PietraKaln 23-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-16Kaimuki
3Oct. 23Molokai vs. Hawaii PrepHPA 25-15, 25-15, 25-21Farrington
4Oct. 23Ka'u vs. UniversityULS 25-20, 25-18, 25-13Farrington
5*Oct. 24Konawaena vs. La PietraKona 20-25, 25-22, 15-11Kaimuki
6*Oct. 24Molokai vs. Ka'uMol 25-17, 25-15Farrington
7Oct. 24(4) Seabury Hall vs. McKinleySH 25-21, 23-25, 14-25, 25-21, 15-9Kaimuki
8Oct. 24(1) Damien vs. KalaniDMS 25-22, 25-18, 25-15Kaimuki
9Oct. 24(2) Waimea vs. Hawaii PrepWaim 25-19, 19-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-10Farrington
10Oct. 24(3) Pearl City vs. UniversityULS 25-13, 25-14, 25-16Farrington
11*Oct. 25Konawaena vs. MolokaiMol 26-24, 26-24Moanalua
12*Oct. 25Hawaii Prep vs. Pearl CityPC 25-18, 20-25, 15-12McKinley
13*Oct. 25McKinley vs. KalaniMcK 25-20, 25-21Kaimuki
14Oct. 25Waimea vs. UniversityWaim 25-21, 25-13, 25-15Kaimuki
15Oct. 25Seabury Hall vs. DamienDMS 21-25, 26-24, 25-18, 15-25, 15-11Kaimuki
16*Oct. 26Pearl City vs. McKinleyMcK 20-25, 25-19, 15-8Blaisdell Arena
17*Oct. 26University vs. Seabury HallULS 25-20, 27-25Blaisdell Arena
18Oct. 26Waimea vs. DamienDMS 25-19, 25-11, 25-14Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


  1. Anonymous October 27, 2019 10:52 pm

    Not to hate on your accomplishment. But, it seems that your “girls” did all the work and made you look good. You did bare minimum for the program. For example not attending practice, and having your assistant coach run practice for you majority of the time is not acceptable. I’m just pointing out facts on how you should’ve been a better Coach, by at least having all the seniors receive the Koa. I mean that’s what every other smart coach would do. They would make sure they send off their seniors off with a memorable season. Just stating these out for your future reference. Mahalo.

  2. FYI October 30, 2019 1:51 pm

    At #1, agreed. He was the “head” coach by title only. His assistants were truly running the team. He’s a great person but facts are as such.

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