Beach Volleyball Joins Chaminade Athletics


Kevin Hashiro

Head Coach Kahala Kabalis Hoke looks forward to the official beach program starting in 2024 after years of unofficial exhibitions matches.

On Aug. 1, Chaminade University of Honolulu announced that it will be adding beach volleyball to its athletic programs in addition to the 10 other sports the private school has. The new sport is set to begin in Spring 2024. 

“I’ve been asking for an official beach program since 2017, I think that was my first proposal,” the women’s indoor volleyball head coach Kahala Kabalis Hoke told KHON2 News in early October. “… And I think it does also help build more awareness to the local community that Chaminade is a competitive program. So it will give us a really great advantage.”

Kabalis-Hoke, who is in her 11th season coaching, will also be overseeing the beach program along with her assistant coach, Kolby Kanetake. 

Uniquely, the beach program will compete independently from the PacWest Conference unlike the 10 other sports CUH has because the conference does not sponsor beach volleyball. In addition and per the NCAA, beach volleyball is not separated into its usual Division I or Division II, so Chaminade’s beach program will compete as a Division I program. 

But this will not be Chamainde’s first exposure to competing against high-level Division I competition. 

In the past, the Chaminade women’s indoor volleyball team has dedicated some of its time in the spring to training on the sand and has even competed in some tournaments. The two-time PacWest Coach of the Year has set up beach tournaments in the spring that have included exhibition tournaments against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Cal Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.

This coming spring will be no different as the dual head coach will be preparing another round of exhibition matches in order to begin preparations for beach volleyball’s official season to start in Spring 2024. 

Chaminade will join the University of Hawaii at Manoa as one of the two beach programs in the state of Hawaii. 

Looking ahead as the Silverswords will begin the official competition in 2024, Kabalis-Hoke said that she has already begun to partner with Manoa. 

“The UH Manoa beach coach has reached out to me to see how we can collaborate on some events,” Kabalis-Hoke said. “So I think that we’ll be hopping on board with them to put together some of the tournaments that they’ll have.”

As it is a brand new sport to Chaminade, most of the beach program will consist of indoor players as the new sport is allotted only one scholarship. And at the time, there are no players that have committed to the team just yet. 

Likely, at least 10 indoor players will join the beach program as Kabalis-Hoke will need to form five pairs in order to compete. 

However, Kabalis-Hoke sees many benefits to having her indoor players on the sand. 

“I’ve set up these beach competitions and practices in the past springs because I think it gives the girls a new environment to train in,” Kahbalis-Hoke said. “I also think that it will help the indoor players with their shot selection, ball control, competition, and overall conditioning. It’s a great way to get reps as well.”

But, for the first season at least, Kabalis-Hoke will be keeping competition to a minimum (eight to 10 tournaments) in order to keep her indoor players healthy and avoid overworking the athletes. 

In the 2022-23 season, the women’s volleyball team won the Pacific West Conference title for the second year in a row, a back-to-back title after accomplishing the feat in the 2021-22 season. The team set the second-most winningest record for the program with 26, trailing last season’s winning record of 27. 

Concluding conference play, the Swords claimed four of the six special awards in the PacWest including Alexia Byrnes, a senior setter, earning Player of the Year and Setter of the Year. Sasha Colombo, a 6-foot-2-inch opposite hitter, earned Newcomer of the Year. 

Both players also earned All-PacWest First Team honors along with three more Silverswords. Two other Swords were honored on the Second Team.

In November, the Silverswords headed to Western Washington University as the eighth seed in the 2022 NCAA West Regional tournament. They defeat the No. 4 ranked team in the nation, Alaska Anchorage, in the first round and reached their first appearance in the West Regional Final. They were eventually downed by Cal State Los Angeles in the finale. 

The Swords will begin their journey in the sand and begin the official competition in Spring 2024.