Kamaile Hiapo, Skyline High, University of Arizona.

Kamaile Hiapo (right) of Skyline High is flying high as the first libero in 27 years to receive a full ride to the University of Arizona.

Two years ago, Kamaile Hiapo had the chance to play on one of the top high school volleyball teams in Arizona. Instead, she chose to play in a program that never has reached the state championship: her mom’s.

Hiapo wanted to help build Skyline High into a championship-caliber program and leave a legacy.

Vee Hiapo, Kamaile’s mother and Skyline’s volleyball coach, remembers Kamaile telling her, “You taught me how to help people and I don’t need people to make me better, I can help them become better.”

The Class 6A state volleyball playoffs begin Tuesday, Oct. 30. The state-championship match is 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Arizona State.

Hiapo is a third-generation volleyball player in a family of fierce competitors. Hiapo’s parents and siblings all played volleyball in college. Her mother played on a U.S. national team.

Her grandfather, Fred Hiapo, is the legend. He was a 30-time outrigger canoe All-American. Hiapo holds him closest, she said. She looked up to him. Hiapo had hoped that he would watch her play in college. He passed away last year. He no doubt would be proud of her.

Hiapo began playing competitive volleyball at 5. By eighth grade, she was among the top 10 players in the country.

At 15, when Hiapo was looking at colleges. she noticed that most Arizonans go out of the state. She wanted to give back to the state and verbally committed to the University of Arizona. Her goal is to help the Wildcats win their first volleyball title. Her offer was historic. She is the first libero in 27 years to receive a full ride.

Although Hiapo is small for volleyball at 5 feet, 7 inches, she plays big. She was an outside hitter and libero for two years.

“It doesn’t matter how much she hurts or if she is in pain, Kamaile plays all out,” Vee Hiapo said.

In one practice, Hiapo took 320 swings, nearly three times the usual number. The feat is extremely rare, especially for a short hitter like Hiapo.

“My body gets tired but I still want to keep going,” Kamaile said.

Hiapo is a rare athlete who will help others grow into better athletes, her teammates say.

“She teaches us on the court. If we do something wrong, she will let us know, and how to improve,” said Alexis Salazar, a senior libero.

Hiapo said she wants to help those who do not yet have college offers. Hiapo views her teammates as her family, which means more than anything to her, she said.

“Her thoughts are, ‘I’m already going to college. Let me help you,’” Vee Hiapo said.

Clearly, Hiapo and her family have a unique relationship that revolves around their love for volleyball. Whether they are at the dinner table or on vacation, they find a way to play, watch or discuss the game.

“With all of our experiences and everything, we all definitely love it, the sport and what it brings to so many people,” Hiapo said.

Next summer, she will be looking forward to playing volleyball internationally for a couple weeks in Europe.

There is one day each week, however, when there is no volleyball for the Hiapo family: Sunday is a day for rest and religion. Hiapo believes in this so strongly that she feels uncomfortable playing on Sundays. She talked to colleges about her beliefs. She was pleased to learn that most respect them.

“I like making my family proud and bringing honor to my family,” Hiapo said. “I know the level I want to be at. I’m not there yet, so I just want to keep progressing and be the best that I can be.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.