Former Hawaii prep stars contribute to UH’s volleyball upset of No. 1 Texas

Tai Manu-Olevao, a Punahou graduate, dug the ball for UH against Texas on Friday night. (Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser)
Tai Manu-Olevao, a Punahou graduate, dug the ball for UH against Texas on Friday night.

(Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser)

Hawaii’s season-opening upset of top-ranked Texas on Friday showcased some of the state’s top prep volleyball talent of recent years playing in a top-level college setting.

Four members of the Star-Advertiser’s 2010 Fab 15 contributed to the four-set Rainbow Wahine victory:

  • Kalei Adolpho (Molokai, No. 5 on the 2010 All-State team) — 11 kills, .421 hitting percentage, seven block assists.
  • Ginger Long (Kamehameha-Maui, No. 9) — two digs.
  • Nikki Taylor (Kaiser, No. 10) — 10 kills, .500, four digs, six blocks in her collegiate debut.
  • Tai Manu-Olevao (Punahou, No. 12) — eight kills, three digs, block.

Manu-Olevao moved up to No. 2 as a senior in 2011, while Punahou teammate Tayler Higgins earned Player of the Year honors. Higgins made appearances off the bench in three sets for UH in her first college match.

Courtney Lelepali (Punahou, honorable mention in 2008) had three digs. Kayla Kawamura (HBA, All-State in 2009 and ’10) contributed an ace and a dig.

On the other side of the net, Sarah Palmer (HBA, Player of the Year in 2008 and ’09) had 11 digs and three assists for defending national champion Texas.

Kat Brooks (Punahou, No. 10 in 2011) finished with six digs and two assists for the Longhorns.

As for team accomplishments, Manu-Olevao, Higgins and Brooks helped power Punahou to the 2011 Division I state championship. Higgins led the Buffanblu to a repeat title last year.

Palmer played on three Division II championship teams at HBA (2007-09), hammering 64 kills in those title matches. Kawamura was part of the 2008 and ’09 title runs.

HBA’s Division II streak ended in 2010, when Adolpho helped Molokai win its first state title.

Lelepali played in the D-I final in 2008 when Punahou lost to Kamehameha.


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