She speaks some Mandarin, loves to bake and once played basketball at Maryknoll middle school.
Devin Kahahawai is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and still an affable, fun-loving kid at heart from Windward Oahu.The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Girls Volleyball All-State player of the year found her volleyball groove after enrolling at Kamehameha in seventh grade.
“There have been some big names who have received this award in years past like Elena Oglivie, Kaylei Akana, and Saige Kaʻahaʻaina-Torres, so to be chosen as the recipient of this award is a great honor,” Kahahawai said.
Her senior year peaked, at least on the court, with a adventurous stint as a member of the US national team — playing in Mexico — along with the state championship.
The season wasn’t easy by any means as Punahou shelved Kamehameha four times in five matchups prior to states. The Warriors gained momentum that week, and with a healthy lineup, swept their arch rivals at Punahou in the state final. The numbers are eye-popping, but it was the visual of Kamehameha’s setters delivering the ball to Kahahawai everywhere on the court that was mesmerizing.
At full, mid-air torque, there hasn’t been a hitter with the length, sinewy form and sheer power of Kahahawai in a very long time.
“Devin is a force to be reckoned with. She has the ability to change the momentum of any game,” Punahou coach Tita Ahuna said. “I look forward to watching her excel at the next level.”
“Devin Kahahawai is the best player in the state, hands down,” Le Jardin coach Lee Lamb said. “We all know she has attacking prowess, but she’s made great strides in her passing and defensive game.”
Basketball’s loss was volleyball’s gain. Imagine Kahahawai on the basketball court for Kamehameha, a team that doesn’t have a starter taller than 5-10. In fact, there hasn’t been a dominant volleyball-basketball in each sport at Kamehameha since Alohi Robins-Hardy. Kahahawai roofing opponents at the rim, on the perimeter, plucking rebounds out of the sky, she could have possibly averaged 12 to 15 rebounds per game – at a minimum.
Not that it was necessary. Between school and club, volleyball is a full-time lifestyle. The 2021 spring season, with an ILH title for Kamehameha, followed a painfully slow process that began with the postponement of the 2020 fall sports campaign. The ILH was the only league in the islands that brought girls volleyball back. Within a few months, the fall season was underway, arguably one of the most draining in prep history — and rewarding.
“This past 2021 season definitely felt a lot longer than past seasons. For one, our season was extended by two months this year,” she said.
In addition to the championship season and the national-team experience, Kahahawai made official visits to Washington, USC and Texas.
“My high school career went by in a flash. It feels like just yesterday that I was a freshman playing with Lexis (Akeo), Brae (Akana) and Chloe (Akiona-Bannan). It’s still hard to believe that I’ve played my last high school game already and will be graduating in a little less than four months,” she said.
When she was 12, Kahahawai didn’t have any expectations about height. In fact, she was of relatively modest height compared to some of her peers among volleyball elite in Hawaii. Her dream was to climb the hill and play for the state’s most successful girls volleyball program.
“Playing for Kamehameha has always been a goal of mine since I was in middle school watching Kayla Afoa play. It definitely was not what I expected, it was more. We were so close with each other, basically all sisters. My freshman and sophomore years, those girls were essentially my older sisters,” Kahahawai said.
“During my first two years on the team, the upperclassmen from the Windward side would pick me up on game days, which would allow us to bond before the game. So, when I became an upperclassman, I continued this game day tradition by picking up the underclassmen from the Windward side. They have taught me so much and I will forever be grateful for the experiences and memories I have with them.”
Kahahawai has been busy with club volleyball since the high school season ended.
“Our next tournament is in Kansas City (Mo.) for Triple Crown NIT in about two weeks,” she said.
Then, after graduation, the new chapter in the book of Devin begins.
“I leave for Texas sometime in the first week of June. I am most looking forward to playing, training, and learning from the girls because I’ve looked up to them and have been watching them play for the last three years,” Kahahawai said.
Devin Kahahawai’s lockdown staples
Top 3 shows/movies:
1. “Vampire Diaries”
2. “The Devil Wears Prada”
3. “Greyʻs Anatomy”
Top 3 food/snack/drink:
1. Shepherd’s pie
“My dad (Mike), by far, makes THE best Shepherdʻs pie.”
3. Vitamin Water, tropical citrus flavor
Top 3 music artists:
1. Adele – “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”
2. Luke Combs – “Forever After All”
3. Fiji – “Sweet Darlin”
Favorite teams and athletes:
>> LA Lakers
>> Kobe Bryant – “Because of his relentless work ethic.”
>> Marshawn Lynch – “Because he gives so much back to the community.”
Favorite class and teacher: freshman English with Kumu Darrow
Funniest teammate: Kayla Bonilla
“Because no matter what kind of day she is having, she always finds a way to make us laugh.”
“It would be hard to choose just one because there are so many girls on the team taking honors and AP courses.”
Teammate most likely to coach one day
“Kalei Watson because she sees the game at such a high level and is very detail oriented.”
New life skill: baking
“One of my favorite things to do in my free time. My favorite two things to bake are chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.”
>> Visit Canada because my tutu (Bernadette “Bernie” Kahahawai) is from there.”
>> Horseback riding
Hidden talent: Mandarin
“I can speak a little Mandarin. I went to Maryknoll from Kindergarten to Sixth grade, where Mandarin was a mandatory class. Then, my first two years of high school, I took Mandarin 1 and 2. I also was a member of the Chinese club at Kamehameha as well.”
“Watch any of my papaʻs football games back when he was a star athlete at ‘Iolani or his professional days with the Baltimore Colts. My papaʻs name is Joseph “Joe” Kahahawai.”
“I’m very thankful for all the support and sacrifices made by my mom (Noe), dad, brother, Cain, and all of my ʻohana. Also, a big mahalo to my coaches, teachers, teammates, friends and all those who have supported me, helping to shape me to be the player, but more importantly, the person I am today.”