Damien coach announces retirement after league volleyball title

Damien Head Coach Don Faumuina says this will be his last season. Steven Erler / Special to the Star-Advertiser / 2018

For Don Faumuina, the fifth time is the charm.

The Damien girls volleyball coach and his program have come close to title town, but they made it happen for real on Friday night. The Lady Monarchs rallied past University 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-14 to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division II championship. Damien (13-1) will have a first-round bye in the HHSAA D-II state tourney in less than two weeks.

Once they gathered after winning the crown, Faumuina broke into tears and covered his eyes for a good 15 seconds before breaking the news to his squad. The fifth season will be his last as head coach.

Damien’s Pili Kekipi-Nuuanu (6) celebrated a kill on Friday.
Cindy Ellen Russel / Star-Advertiser

“Aw man, this has been five years in the making. We’ve played for the championship several times and this is what we worked for. The girls earned it. They deserve it,” Faumuina said. “We’ve had better matches. That fourth set we made some adjustments and talked to them. I said, just give us 25 points and they made it work.”

He had planned to wait until after the state tourney to tell his team about his plans to step away.

“I was going to wait, but I felt this was the right time to let them know. I wasn’t expecting (to cry). I told them that I’m so proud of them. All the hard work they put in, coming in Saturdays, other days. We knew other teams were taking time off and we didn’t want to take off,” Faumuina said. “But I have a son who is going to be a senior (at Kamehameha) and I didn’t see him play this past year. I’d like to be there for (Jonah). And some other things with the police (department) side, the union.”

The Lady Monarchs huddled closer to their head coach as he struggled with his mixed emotions.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of emotions going on,” he said. “But this is the right time. I wasn’t going to tell them until after states, but I decided to tell them now.”


Junior middle Lala Campbell played the entire season with a brace on her left knee, but hadn’t experienced any issues with it. She suffered an ACL injury as a sophomore last year, and in this match, she tweaked it during the first set with her team ahead 22-21. The entire team froze and looked like ghosts as she limped off the court with help from trainers.

Campbell returned in the third set.

“This is the first time she had a problem with it all year. I think it was the excitement of the first set, but she settled down,” Faumuina said. “She gave us the jump start we needed (in the third).”

“I’m really proud of our team. They came back without me in the second game,” Campbell said.


Campbell’s eyes got watery again recalling what her coach said.

“I haven’t seen him cry before, but since freshman year, we’ve been waiting for this,” Campbell said. “He said, we’re all special and how excited he is for our journey going to states, and hopefully we can pull it off at the state tournament.”

The Damien Monarchs celebrated after defeating the University Jr. Bows.
Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

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