Maui Robins enjoys an ice-cold bottle of Gatorade on a hot day.
Now that she is the Gatorade girls volleyball player of the year in Hawaii, the Kamehameha junior outside hitter won’t look at the globally-branded sports drink the same way.
“I like glacier freeze (flavor). It’s the light blue one,” the junior said.
The honor had Robins searching for words at first, but she is growing more comfortable with acclaim.
“I feel good. I think that, I don’t know, at first I didn’t know how to feel because it’s such a big award. I’m honestly, I guess I’m proud and thankful for everyone who’s been part of the process. Everyone who’s played with me or coached me, including my dad (Duke Robins), who’s basically my 24/7 coach,” she said. “My dad and all his siblings have coaching history.”
Kamehameha went 9-2 and won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship, ‘Iolani 25-18, 23-25, 25-13 in the semifinals and Punahou 25-22, 25-20 in the final. Robins had eight kills and two blocks in the title match.
Robins and classmate Devin Kahahawai provided a lethal attacking combination for a program that was the returning state champion. There was no state tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the ILH was the lone high school league to postpone and play a girls volleyball season in 2020-21.
It was only fitting that Kamehameha coach Chris Blake was traveling on the Hokulea between Maui and Hawaii Islands in the Alenuihaha Channel on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a huge honor whenever any one of our players gets an honor like that,” Blake said. “The volleyball excellence permeates through their family. I remember Duke (was a volunteer assistant when Maui was probably around fourth or fifth grade. He’d pick her up from school and she’d sit on the side and watch.”
Gatorade has always required high academic standing as part of the selection process. Robins has a 3.5 grade-point average.
“It’s just a 3.5,” she said. I’m surrounded by people who have 4.0’s.”
Robins’ older sister, Kili, played for the Warriors. So did cousins Kawai and Alohi Robins-Hardy. The latter was a four-time Star-Advertiser All-State selection, named All-State and Gatorade player of the year in 2014. Alohi Robins-Hardy was an assistant coach with the Warriors this spring and plays professionally in the Philippines.
The expectations are ingrained.
“We had a tough first match against Punahou, but she used that as motivation to constantly improve. It’s the building of her character and her abilities to be that guiding light for her teammates,” Blake noted. “She was selected by our team as one of our two captains. The leadership makes sure the team runs the way it has to. With the accelerated time frame, she was great at keeping everything moving along. You don’t see those kind of things on any stat sheet.”
Next up for Robins is a club tournament in Florida. She plays for her father’s team, High Intensity.
“We play 18s and we leave in about three weeks. After that, we’re done with club season, then we start school season workouts,” she said.
Though the return of girls volleyball to the fall is not official yet. Even at ILH schools like Kamehameha, restrictions were the norm.
“Some days, we’ll have weight lifting and conditioning, some days, the gym. Everything was so limited this past season. We couldn’t even access the track because football was on the field,” Robins said, noting the exhibition spring schedule on the gridiron.
Robins’ first and middle names are part of a family tradition.
“Maui is for my mom (Camille)’s friend. She’s from Lahaina. I was supposed to be named Frankie after my mom’s dad, Frank, but my dad didn’t like it, so they went with Maui,” she said. “Me and my siblings have a theme of short Hawaiian names. My middle name is Sky. Kili’s is Rain and my brother Pai‘ea’s is Storm.”
The homeland of her mother is in her thoughts.
“I like it. I love Maui so much. That’s where I want to live when I get older. My mom’s whole side of the family (Sylva) is from there, in Lahaina. My dad’s from Waimanalo. My mom boarded at Kamehameha. She played tennis, actually. They met in high school, then they broke up because of college and the long distance. They were smart about it, I guess,” Robins said. “I never asked them all the details. But they got back together again.”
Maui Robins’ Lockdown Staples
Top 3 TV shows
1. “Grey’s Anatomy” (Netflix).
“I would binge it, and then I have a break, a month or two, and then binge the rest. They just did season 17. I just like seeing the cases they get in the hospital. I don’t have any interest in becoming a surgeon, but it’s interesting to me. And I like the romantic drama.”
2. “One Tree Hill” (Hulu).
“It’s just like a basic teen show. It’s about these two boys and they grow up and they have the same dad, but they grow up in different environments.”
3. “Law and Order SVU.”
“I watch Law and Order with my family all the time.”
Top 3 movies
1. “What Happened to Monday” (Netflix).
“It’s a really good one. It’s really clever. A woman is pregnant and she lives in a society where they’re running low on food and resources, so you can only have one child, and she’s pregnant with seven babies. They spend their lives trying to keep the seven babies safe.”
Top 3 food/snacks/drinks
1. Fried rice.
“I learned how to make my tutu-papa (Bob Robins)’s fried rice. It’s so simple, but I think that’s what I like about it. It’s just spam, eggs and rice, basically. We grew up eating it, all my cousins and me, but I didn’t learn how to make it until quarantine.”
2. Baja Blast Freeze (Taco Bell)
“It’s like a Slurpee. It’s another type of Mountain Dew. I never really get energetic after I drink it. I drink it once or twice a week. I actually drove through and got the Baja Blast Freeze and no food because I wanted something refreshing.”
3. Portuguese Bean Soup.
“My dad’s is the best. It’s Portuguese sausage, ham (hock), and then there’s kidney beans, garbanzo beans, macaroni, onions, cilantro, tomatoes. It’ll simmer for an hour or two. The whole process takes about three to four hours. We’ll have it with rice and sweet Hawaiian bread rolls.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Sam Smith – “One Last Song.”
2. Billie Eilish (and Khalid) – “Lovely.”
3. Daniel Caesar – “Blessed.”
New life skill: Driving.
“I did learn to drive over quarantine. I got my permit so I need to get my license. Me and my sister Kili got our permits at the same time.”
“I’d like to shout out my parents.”