Kamehameha’s Keonilei Akana picks Pac-12 school
Kamehameha's Keonilei Akana accepted a scholarship offer from Southern California on Monday. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
A few years from now, a potential women’s volleyball match between Hawaii and Southern California could bring out some emotional moments in the Akana household. A few months after Kamehameha senior Braelyn Akana decided to follow in the footsteps of her mother, Joselyn Robins-Akana, and commit to the University of Hawaii, younger sister Keonilei has decided to take her volleyball talents to the Pac-12. Keonilei Akana, now a junior at Kamehameha, verbally committed to USC on Monday after participating in two different camps on the Southern Cal campus two weeks ago.
She got a call a week later with a scholarship offer and decided to take it after talking to her mom, a standout UH Wahine volleyball player from 1993 to ’96, and dad, Brandyn Akana, a former BYU-Hawaii basketball star and UH basketball assistant coach who is now the head boys basketball coach at Kahuku. “(My parents) were excited. We were all excited as a family,” Keonilei said. “We talked it over as a family and made sure to think about it before deciding.” Brandyn Akana admitted it’d be nice if Keonilei followed Braelyn to UH, but said Keonilei “always wanted to go away.” Keonilei said she had options to go to a bunch of different volleyball camps this summer, but decided only to attend one — at USC.
“I decided to just focus on USC this summer,” Keonilei said. “They just got a different coaching staff coming in and so I just started talking to them recently. After waiting for a long time (to see USC) and visiting different colleges it was a good experience to go to the USC one.” She participated in a camp specifically for liberos and back-row specialists and then took part in an all-skills camp with more than 200 players involved. An All-State honorable mention selection as a sophomore at Kamehameha, where she plays outside hitter, Akana said she is being recruited by the Trojans as a libero. “I was just trying to work hard at everything and knew if I did good and tried my best it would all hopefully work out,” she said.
Kamehameha is currently going through tryouts for the upcoming volleyball season. Keonilei and Braelyn will be teammates for one last season before Braelyn heads off for UH. A year later, Keonilei will be with the Trojans and a potential college showdown between the sisters is a possibility. “I think we will play during a preseason,” Keonilei said. “It would be fun.”