Q&A: ‘Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey on Raiders’ trip to Durango Classic

'Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey has led the Raiders to two state championships in the last three years. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The quest for greatness doesn’t begin and end in league play for the ‘Iolani Raiders.

The girls volleyball defending state champions returned from Nevada on Sunday after competing in the Durango Classic. The Raiders went 3-0 in pool play, winning every set. They defeated host Durango (Nev.) 25-22, 25-10; Village Christian (Calif.) 25-19, 25-17; and Madison (Idaho) 25-15, 25-17.

The Raiders then lost in the qualifying round to national powerhouse Assumption (Kent.) 26-24, 25-22. After a 25-18, 25-12 loss to ILH rival Kamehameha in the opening round of the Silver Division, ‘Iolani swept James Logan (Calif.) 25-13, 25-15 and rallied past Laguna Beach (Calif.) 16-25, 25-23, 25-19 to place fifth in the division.


‘Iolani closed the Classic with a 5-2 overall record.

Raiders coach Kainoa Obrey chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Monday.

HPW: A midseason trip to Las Vegas can be tiring, but the benefits of playing in Durango are immeasurable.

Obrey: We consider it more of a benefit to continue to grow as a team on and off the court.  We learn more about ourselves playing against some really competitive teams.  Always a benefit to build trust and learn more about each other as a person.  

HPW: What’s different about Durango compared to 5-10 years ago?

Obrey: Well, there are now 64 total teams, so it is tougher to get into the top 16 as you need to win your pool of 4 to advance to the top 16.  The teams are more competitive and from all over the country. Great mix of style of play and many State Championship type teams. Truly believe the top teams attend this tournament so it is an honor to be invited each year and we are happy to represent ‘Iolani School well.    

HPW: What was it like traveling with this year’s group? Any particular go-to restaurants or snacks?

Obrey: Wonderful to travel with this year’s group … we have a good mix of returnees and newcomers, so it’s great to experience everything on this trip together. We have our eateries which we try to visit each year. Einstein Bagels, Cafe Rio, Jason’s Deli, Sweet Tomatoes, In-n-Out, etc.


HPW: Do you ever think, I am so glad I’m coaching (and traveling with) girls instead of boys? Or is it the opposite?

Obrey: Not necessarily one way or the other.  Never really thought about it in that sense.  

HPW: Did you ban the team from shopping trips?

Obrey: We don’t “ban” shopping trips, but there isn’t much time to do so. If we are not playing or eating, the kids are studying. School never stops for our kids. Main reason everyone is at ‘Iolani School is for the academics so you will see our kids studying any time we have “down time.”  We also have study halls scheduled each day for 2-3 hours.   

HPW: Who enjoyed the trip most and least?

Obrey: We all had a great time and happy we are all returning home healthy.  

HPW: What is the difference emotionally and schematically when Elena (Oglivie) is and isn’t available? (Oglivie recently completed her participation with the US national team, which won in Egypt.)

Obrey: We are happy to have Elena back in the mix.  Our kids grew a lot and gained a lot of experience in her absence. We still have similar processes with or without Elena and/or any of our kids.  


HPW: When did you return and is it enough time to reload for Mid-Pacific (Tuesday)?

Obrey: We returned to Honolulu on Sunday, 12:45 p.m., so it gives our kids the afternoon and evening to get recovered and ready for school on Monday. After MPI, we play Punahou on Friday, and finally Kamehameha next Tuesday. We are looking forward to all of our ILH matches.  

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