Wahine volleyball commit has deep roots to UH
DENNIS ODA / 2017
“Being a Wahine means the world to me.”
Daughter of former Wahine volleyball player Joselyn Robins-Akana and former UH assistant Brandyn Akana
There never was a question about athletic DNA, the double helix woven with strands of volleyball (mother) and basketball (father).
The question was about continuing a legacy. Would Braelyn Akana choose not just her mother’s alma mater — Hawaii — but also choose to become a second-generation Rainbow Wahine volleyball player?
It was a decision her daughter did not make lightly, Joselyn Robins-Akana said. There were pros and cons to staying home as well as going away and it was discussed at length with Akana and her parents, Robins-Akana and dad Brandyn Akana, former basketball standout at Brigham Young-Hawaii, ex-UH men’s assistant and current Kahuku High boys basketball coach.
In the end, Braelyn Akana chose to play in the Stan Sheriff Center, a place her mother played on opening night in 1994, and play for two of her mother’s most decorated teammates: head coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos and assistant Angelica Ljungqvist.
Akana, a rising senior at Kamehameha, has orally committed to Hawaii for 2019. The 5-foot-11 All-State selection can officially sign her scholarship agreement in November.
“Being a Wahine means the world to me,” Akana wrote in a text to the Star-Advertiser. “I will follow in the footsteps of so many worthy local Hawaii players that were given an opportunity to play for coaching legends Dave Shoji and now Coach Robyn.
“I am excited to wear No. 14 in Green and White like my mom, who wore it because of former Wahine Toni Nishida. I am so excited to be able to stay home, play in front of family and friends and be a part of a program with such a rich tradition.”
“Braelyn had three solid offers,” Robins-Akana said, “but when her team won the USAV 18 Open in Spokane in March, her stock kind of went up and there was more attention.
“She wanted to make a decision before her senior year, be relaxed a little more for the season. Her dad and I had wanted her to go away, but after Spokane she asked us, ‘Do you think Hawaii is an option?’ ”
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / 2017
Kamehameha’s Braelyn Akana helped the Warriors to a state title in her junior year.
Her original options included Washington State, Oregon State and Boise State. But Akana had played club for then-Wahine assistant Ah Mow-Santos and “I learned the value of hard work and humility from her,” Akana said. “I know what to expect when I walk in her gym.
“She’s committed to get me better and I know she will because I experienced it first hand.”
“She told me, ‘Mom, I have an advantage over every player coming in,’ ” Robins-Akana said. “She wanted to be a part of Robyn’s first true recruiting class.
“Of course I have a relationship with Robyn and Angelica. We talk, but never about volleyball. This is all Braelyn. I kept out of it.”
Akana was the co-captain on Kamehameha’s state championship team last fall, playing middle blocker. Closer to 5-11 than her listed 6 feet, she is considered undersized for that position at the collegiate level, something that was said about former Wahine All-American Emily Hartong.
Akana’s athleticism and volleyball IQ might have her playing left side or on the right. She told Ah Mow-Santos, “Coach, anywhere you want me to play.”
NCAA regulations prohibit Ah Mow-Santos from speaking about a recruit until the National Letter of Intent is signed.
With her current club team Manoa Beach not traveling for competition, she and Kamehameha teammates Lexis Akeo, Paris Oliveira and Kaylei Akana (her sister) are training with Molten Volleyball Club in Gilbert, Ariz. The club is run by the Hiapo family.