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.
Outgoing coach Don Faumuina on Julia Tilton’s 9-point service run during Damien’s sweep of Waimea for the school’s first girls volleyball state title (D-II). @DamienMemorial @HawaiiPrepWorld @HHSAAsports @StarAdvertiser pic.twitter.com/niClcA74h3
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) October 27, 2019
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.
“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.
|1||Oct. 23||Konawaena vs. McKinley||McK 25-16, 23-25, 18-25, 25-20, 15-11||Kaimuki|
|2||Oct. 23||Kalani vs. La Pietra||Kaln 23-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-16||Kaimuki|
|3||Oct. 23||Molokai vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA 25-15, 25-15, 25-21||Farrington|
|4||Oct. 23||Ka'u vs. University||ULS 25-20, 25-18, 25-13||Farrington|
|5*||Oct. 24||Konawaena vs. La Pietra||Kona 20-25, 25-22, 15-11||Kaimuki|
|6*||Oct. 24||Molokai vs. Ka'u||Mol 25-17, 25-15||Farrington|
|7||Oct. 24||(4) Seabury Hall vs. McKinley||SH 25-21, 23-25, 14-25, 25-21, 15-9||Kaimuki|
|8||Oct. 24||(1) Damien vs. Kalani||DMS 25-22, 25-18, 25-15||Kaimuki|
|9||Oct. 24||(2) Waimea vs. Hawaii Prep||Waim 25-19, 19-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-10||Farrington|
|10||Oct. 24||(3) Pearl City vs. University||ULS 25-13, 25-14, 25-16||Farrington|
|11*||Oct. 25||Konawaena vs. Molokai||Mol 26-24, 26-24||Moanalua|
|12*||Oct. 25||Hawaii Prep vs. Pearl City||PC 25-18, 20-25, 15-12||McKinley|
|13*||Oct. 25||McKinley vs. Kalani||McK 25-20, 25-21||Kaimuki|
|14||Oct. 25||Waimea vs. University||Waim 25-21, 25-13, 25-15||Kaimuki|
|15||Oct. 25||Seabury Hall vs. Damien||DMS 21-25, 26-24, 25-18, 15-25, 15-11||Kaimuki|
|16*||Oct. 26||Pearl City vs. McKinley||McK 20-25, 25-19, 15-8||Blaisdell Arena|
|17*||Oct. 26||University vs. Seabury Hall||ULS 25-20, 27-25||Blaisdell Arena|
|18||Oct. 26||Waimea vs. Damien||DMS 25-19, 25-11, 25-14||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|