Elena Oglivie did not let an opportunity pass her by.
The ‘Iolani student beefed up on academics during her junior year in order to qualify for Stanford, and after getting accepted there, made her commitment to play for the Cardinal women’s volleyball team.
“Junior year, I got really serious and committed to the process of trying to get into Stanford,” Oglivie, now a senior, said Thursday prior to a match in the annual Ann Kang Invitational at ‘Iolani. “I had to work really hard on my grades and took three AP courses, which I’d never done before.”
When Oglivie was a sophomore, she went on a visit to the campus but didn’t know that the school was interested in recruiting her.
“Assistant coach Denise (Corlett) showed us around and then I talked to coach Kevin (Hambly) afterward and found out they were interested and it took me by surprise. I was like, ‘OK, maybe Stanford,’ but I thought it was kind of out of reach.”
Oglivie, who is a two-time Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year, chose Stanford over three other schools she visited — Washington, USC and Georgia.
“Their volleyball is tremendous and they won a national championship last year, so that attracted me initially,” she said. “They are also such a high academic school. It’s not just about being the best volleyball player you can be. It’s also about being the best person and student you can be. I think I will be given that opportunity to do that at Stanford and opportunities for the future as well.”
Moanalua coach Alan Cabanting, a Huskies fan, joked with Oglivie that he was disappointed she chose Stanford over Washington.
“It’s awesome for her,” Cabanting said. “How do you beat going to Stanford? She works hard at what she does and she definitely deserves it.
“I remember seeing her in her eighth-grade year and thinking this girl is going to be special. She had a little bit of kink in her swing early on. But (‘Iolani coach) Kainoa (Obrey) and her (Kuakahi) club coach really helped her work on it to get it more fluid and tweaking it to become more explosive.”
Oglivie, a feared outside hitter at 5 feet 10, thinks she will be a defensive specialist/libero at Stanford. Hitting is not out of the question.
“I would be open to the idea because I love hitting,” she said. “But they have a lot of pins and they’re all taller than 6 feet.”
Added Obrey: “They recruit for size. They are typically 6-4 on the pins. They do have a 6-footer on the outside that ballhandles and attacks, so she (Oglivie) may get a chance, especially with her experience on the youth national team. Her ballhandling separates her from most outside hitters. She’ll do what the coach asks and if she gets the opportunity to hit, then she gets the opportunity to hit. I don’t see her backing down at any point. It would be pretty cool to see her attack.”
To Obrey and Cabanting, Oglivie’s playing style as an undersized hitter is reminiscent of Kanani Danielson, the former Kamehameha and University of Hawaii star who became a three-time AVCA All-American.
“She has the same build and is similarly explosive off the attack,” Cabanting said.
Said Obrey, “Being in the same sentence and compared to Danielson is pretty special.”
Oglivie and four other Raiders seniors — Ashley Murashige, Nikki Shimao, Ashley Sim and Torie Takeuchi — will be leading the team in its effort for a third D-I state title in the last four years.
They are also going for a third straight Ann Kang title in the tournament that wraps up Saturday.
Oglivie and her teammates talk about trying to repeat as D-I state champs, but know that won’t be easy.
“The big word in our program is process,” she said. “We’ve been through the process and we know every moment counts, so we’ll be trying to make every moment count to be able to win the state championship in the end. It’s definitely in the back of our minds and we want to win it.”