Spirited Damien girls volleyball squad collects another tourney title

The Lady Monarchs of Damien have won all four of their preseason tournaments so far in 2021. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

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.

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.

Chad Giesseman’s route to Damien began with several years as coach at McKinley. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

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.


  1. Save Our Schools August 24, 2021 5:53 pm

    I see this coach practicing with players all the time at Kapiolani Park throughout the whole year. Are these “legal” practice in terms of high school.

  2. Chad Giesseman September 6, 2021 6:07 pm

    Someone told me about this comment that was left on this story so I feel like I have to respond. First if your going to accuse someone of “Practicing with players ALL the time at Kapiolani park throughout the whole year”, you should confirm that you are accusing the correct coach. I don’t coach girls club and I just got hired at Damien HS in June and we didn’t start practicing till the first week of July. Prior to that I have never met any of the girls until we started in July. You can confirm this with the Damien girls or if you would like you can reach out to their parents. We have never had an outdoor practice in the history of my coaching career. If you are referring to my oldest son’s and his friend from Roosevelt grass tournament last month then yes I was there and yes I was there supporting my son. Please have your facts correct before you publicly make accusations that are incorrect and false. If you feel the need to discuss this matter with me than I would be more than happy to sit down and talk with you. Mahalo!! 🤙🏽

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