Chad Giesseman was a fixture at McKinley for years.
Today, he is both head coach of Damien girls volleyball and a volunteer assistant men’s coach at Hawaii. He would have it no other way. The Lady Monarchs continued their highly successful preseason with a three-set, come-from-behind 19-24, 26-24, 15-9 win over University on Saturday in the final of the Hawaii Invitational at Kekuhaupio Gym.
That came moments after a stunning victory over host Kamehameha. The perennial powerhouse was missing key players, but Damien still faced a talented Warriors squad. The Warriors played without several key players, including Devin Kahahawai and Maui Robins. Kahahawai is visiting colleges. Robins and a number of teammates are recovering from injuries.
The Lady Monarchs were aware of Damien’s track record in the tourney.
“Coach actually brought up the last time Damien played in this tournament, they came in last place,” said Kody Wengler, who had 10 kills.
Damien rallies past University 19-25, 26-24, 15-8 to win the Hawaii Girls Volleyball Invitational. Kody Wengler 10 kills, Kenna Wengler 15 assists, 4 kills for Lady Monarchs. Pi’i Carvalho 11 K, Makena Tong 10 K, Milan Ah Yat 9 K for @ulsjrbows. @HawaiiPrepWorld @DamienMemorial pic.twitter.com/TLUmqLVh0e
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) August 22, 2021
It was a demonstration of willpower. Point after point, Damien refused to buckle despite the fatigue of eight matches during the event.
“Our mentality is to want to win, never give up, no balls drop, just scramble,” said twin sister Kenna Wengler, who had 15 assists and four kills.
The Wengler twins are versatile throwback players who play much the way Shellane Ogoshi did for Roosevelt two decades ago. Skilled enough to play any position with the power and athleticism to bring the hammer often. Ogoshi went on to play at Hofstra and coach at the Division I level.
Tiani Souza, a junior, added five kills, two aces and one block. Freshman Kaila Kalama-Bajet also tallied five kills, and junior Raiatea Campbell chipped in with three kills.
“Excited. I’m really excited. I thought we would do well in this tournament, be competitive, but to win this whole thing was definitely awesome not just for me, but for the members of our coaching staff and how hard the girls have worked the last four weeks,” Giesseman said.
Pi‘i Carvalho led the Junior Rainbows with 11 kills. Makena Tong had 10 kills and Milan Ah Yat added nine kills and one ace for coach Brad Miller.
The final set was painful for the talented team from ULS, which committed seven hitting errors. The Jr. Bows’ also reached the final in Damien’s tourney the week before, losing in a 25-point, winner-take-all.
“That was on my definitely on my mind right after that match, trying to get the girls’ energy level, trying to bringing it up to match what UH Lab was going to bring,” Giesseman said.
Damien had played ULS one week earlier in the 25-point, single-set final of the Lady Monarchs’ tournament. Damien won that battle, too.
There came a tipping point after the opening set when the Jr. ‘Bows won with a late flurry of points. Giesseman challenged his team to dig deep in its eighth match of the three-day tourney.
“I knew they were tired, and of course, my assistant coaches Brook (Sedore) and Lokahi (Holder) them, were motivating the girls to keep going. All in all, it came down to the girls wanted it more. They got together in their huddles, getting each other up,” Giesseman said.
Souza, a middle blocker, also credited Sedore, a former All-American player at Hawaii.
“Our assistant coach actually came to us during all our time outs and calmed us down. He told us to stick together and just work hard, pick up everything, don’t let nothing drop,” the middle blocker said.
Giesseman also credited conditioning coach Cameron Bajet.
“He did a lot of conditioning over the summer. He got those girls really working out,” Giesseman said.
The work has forged a bond.
“I think what we all going to remember most is how we worked together as a team. We won this together,” Campbell said.
The ILH girls volleyball schedule has not been released yet, but Giesseman expects the slate to begin in late September. That doesn’t mean the Lady Monarchs will rest of their laurels, though.
“They’ll get Monday off,” the coach said.
“No time to rest,” Kody Wengler said.