By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sport writer
Five years ago, Chelsey Buyuan made a big impact as a 5-foot-6 outside hitter, and powered Waiakea to its first Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball title since 1996.
She was named the All-BIIF Division I Player of the Year in 2008 and also received the honor the following season, after the Warriors captured a second straight championship. (Waiakea has not won a league crown since.)
Five years later, Buyuan is still 5 feet 6, and making a big impact as a libero at Hawaii Pacific, where she was recently named the Pacific West Conference Defender of the Week.
The 2010 Waiakea graduate has made a smooth transition to college and a position change as well, essentially cutting her job in half (liberos aren’t allowed to attack), and giving hope to other BIIF outside hitters who don’t have height, but are well-rounded players.
Buyuan was always one of the primary ball-handlers when she played at Waiakea and for Napua Kaaa’s club team. Those skills helped her land on the PacWest’s third team last season, when she was 10th in the conference with an average of of 3.93 digs per set. She led the Sea Warriors with 375 digs and played in all 25 matches.
She’s suddenly a senior at HPU and Buyuan is playing better than ever. She leads the team with a stellar 5.70 digs-per-set average. Through eight matches, she already has 154 digs, on pace to shatter last season’s mark.
HPU (6-2) hosts the University of Hawaii at Hilo (5-0) in a Pacific West Conference opener Friday at St. Andrew’s Priory Gym on Oahu. Then a week later, it will be Buyuan’s final homecoming when the Sea Warriors visit the Vulcans on Sept. 28 at UHH Gym.
Back in the day as a Warrior, Buyuan advanced three times — as a sophomore, junior and senior — to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament. She has yet to taste the postseason as a Sea Warrior.
Last season, HPU was tied for fifth in the 14-team conglomeration; BYU-Hawaii took the title. In 2011, the Sea Warriors were fifth again in the 10-team conference; BYUH got the title. In 2010, HPU was behind co-conference champions BYUH and UHH in the nine-team league.
• Kiana Lumanlan (Kamehameha 2012), a freshman at George Fox, finished in a tie for 46th with an 87-98—185 total, 34 shots off the medalist at the O’Brien National Invitational on Sunday-Monday at Notre Dame, Ind.
Lumanlan was an All-BIIF second-team member in her senior season. At the state championships that year, she shot a 92-82—174 total, 29 strokes behind the medalist at the Wailua Golf Course on Kauai.
The Division III Bruins, from Newberg, Ore., are in the Northwest Conference, and feature one other Hawaii player on the roster in sophomore Loreece Magsanide, from Oahu’s Campbell High.
• Kayla Davidson (Kealakehe 2010), a senior goalie at Pacific, received Northwest Conference honorable mention for matches played from Sept. 9-15.
In a 2-1 home win over Northwest Christian last Thursday, Davidson, who was a backup goalie the previous three seasons, played the entire match and had one save and one score allowed.
The week before that, Davidson was league’s defensive student-athlete of the week.
Her sister, McKenna Davidson (Kealakehe 2012), is a sophomore forward at the Forest, Ore., school, and entered last Thursday’s game as a substitute and recorded no shots. In a victory against Evergreen on Sept. 7, she scored the game-winning goal in the 98th minute off a corner kick.
To submit a collegiate athlete with Big Island ties for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org.