Chaminade Volleyball Aims to ‘Re-energize’ Sense of Community


Kahala Kabalis-Hoke

Members of the Chaminade volleyball team and women’s basketball team gather for a picture after their bonding activity.

The Chaminade volleyball team ascertained monumental success this season as back-to-back PacWest Conference championships, recipients of numerous accolades like back-to-back Player of the Year honors, seven players named to the 2022 PacWest All-Conference teams, and reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in Chaminade’s history.

But the job’s not done for the team there. 

In between win after win after win this season, finishing 26-8 and the second-most program wins in history, the volleyball team hosted bonding activities between other athletic teams on campus in order to strengthen the Chaminade community. 

Across the season, the volleyball team coordinated hangouts with the softball, women’s soccer, and women’s basketball teams in which they were grouped up and played athletic mini-games somewhat related to their respective sports, like knockout for basketball and handball for softball. 

The goal of these activities, which ranged from one to two hours, was to bring student-athletes together and, as volleyball head coach Kahala Kabalis-Hoke said, to “re-energize and re-emerge as a stronger community” after she noticed a sense of unity across Chaminade was withered down by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Kabalis-Hoke, who’s been the head coach of the volleyball program for 11 years, said that re-establishing relations within the Silversword athletics community has been a consistent conversation over the past couple of years among the coaches, and these bonding events were just one of the many ways they hope to start strengthening the bonds around campus. 

Mia Ming, a sophomore shooting guard for the Chaminade women’s basketball team, thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to bond with another student-athlete team in a more relaxed environment than competition. 

“It was really cool being able to learn and play with each of the different volleyball players and learn more about them because we obviously see each other around campus, but we don’t know much about each other,” Ming said. “so being able to make those connections with them, I think was the best part.” 

Kabalis-Hoke said she aspired to reassure the members in the volleyball program that there’s an extended family in the Chaminade community, they just have to make more of an effort to build that. She constantly encourages her players to make connections beyond their team circle so that they contribute to perpetuating the feeling of unity on campus.

“Sometimes the members ask, ‘Where’s our fans?’ or ‘Where’s our support from school?’” Kabalis-Hoke said, “and then I tell them, ‘That’s on you guys to be making those relationships. If you make friends outside of the team and in your classes, they’re gonna want to support you and come to your games.’”

Ming said the bonding event was successful, and its impact on her connectivity between the basketball and volleyball team was noticeable after attendance at each other’s matches and games increased.

“It most definitely strengthens the athletic community on campus,” the 19-year-old Biology major said, “because I think this is one of the first times that sports have made an effort to even hang out with each other outside of their own practices, aside from going and attending each other’s games.”

Kendall Rios, an outside hitter on the volleyball team, enjoyed the way the bonding activities allowed her to connect with other student-athletes, and said the best part about them was being able to see her fellow student-athletes on campus after that. 

“When we were at Regionals, people were sending us videos of watch parties that they were having with their friends,” Rios, a third-year Forensic Science major, said. “Even if it was just in their dorms or in the Loo Student Center, that was so fun and the most heartwarming experience. It was just, we felt so supported in that moment.”

The volleyball team achieved outstanding success this season. Chaminade received four out of six PacWest Volleyball 2022 Awards: Alexia Byrnes with both Player of the Year and Setter of the Year, Sasha Colombo with Newcomer of the Year, and Kabalis-Hoke with Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.

Additionally, five players made the 2022 All-PacWest Volleyball First Team: Byrnes, Colombo, Brooklen Peʻa, Greta Corti, and Lataisia Saulala. Two players made the 2022 All-Pacwest Second Team: Sophie Schilling and Ajack Malual.

As such a successful program, how do the members still have so much left to give to the community?

“It’s all about balance,” Kabalis-Hoke said. “A part of our goals as a team was not only to be successful on the court, but to be successful in the classroom and to build a strong Chaminade ʻohana and community.”

Kabalis-Hoke, who also recently became the all-time most winningest coach in Chaminade volleyball’s history with 184 wins, added that the collective effort to encourage more social engagement is to remedy the sense of community that she felt was “blatantly not there” this season.

“As a coach I know if they can build strong relationships outside the team, they’ll feel more sense of belonging to the school,” Kabalis-Hoke said, “rather than just the team. I definitely want that sense of belonging and inclusion for the players to help them thrive here.”

Rios, who still has two more years of competition and school left to complete, is excited to interact with more students and student-athletes around campus. Changing the atmosphere between student-athletes, whether it be during classes or in the athletic trainer’s office, being able to recognize each other and make the effort to say that simple “hello” is important to her.

“I hope that this is the start of more athletes realizing that we can all be connected in a better way,” Rios said.