By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s recent 2012 graduate class is doing quite well at the collegiate level, especially the field of volleyball players, with quite a few getting postseason experience.
Waihilo Chartrand (Hilo) started at defensive specialist for Eastern Arizona, which made it to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Region I championships, but fell to old foe Arizona Western in straight sets on Wednesday.
Earlier in the season, the Gila Monsters edged the Matadors in a five-set marathon at home. It was a tough season for Eastern Arizona, which finished with a 14-13 record and played its first four matches against ranked teams, winning once.
At least, Chartrand had friendly company and enjoyed her first season. One of her teammates was Randi Estrada (Keaau), a backup middle blocker.
“It was a good experience playing with different people and getting to travel and playing against different schools,” Chartrand said. “It was an easy transition for me. I came up early in the summer in June, so I was used to it.”
Kaimana Moike (Kamehameha), Dylan Shiraki (Honokaa) and Joey Charbonneau (Honokaa), also 2012 graduates, are on the Eastern Arizona baseball team. They attended matches and provided vocal support.
“They came to every game,” Chartrand said. “I’m going to watch their baseball games, too. There are a lot of local kids, from Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. It’s good and I like it here.”
Other recent graduates include:
• Jasmine Ward (Konawaena), the 5-10 outside hitter, is starting at Santa Barbara City College (14-6, 8-0 Western State Conference), riding a 12-match winning streak. The Vaqueros play one more match before the Southern Cal Regional.
• Destynee Figueroa (Hilo) and Kalei Paige (Kamehameha) are at Oteru (Colo.) junior college (15-10), which has lost to national powers No. 2 Western Nebraska, No. 4 Iowa Western and No. 5 Salt Lake community college. The Rattlers are in the NJCAA’s Region IX South Tournament, which concludes today.
• Leeta Grap (Hawaii Prep) is at No. 8 North Idaho (21-4, 6-4 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference). She has played in 24 matches, starting four and averaging 1.25 kills per set. The Cardinals are in the regionals, which conclude today.
• Chynna Loeffler (St. Joseph) is at Skagit (Wash.) Valley College (7-17, 1-8 Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges), which restarted its program after budget cuts suspended last season. The Cardinals, the same nickname at St. Joe, have two more matches to close their season.
• Ariana Kaleo (Waiakea) is at Trinty (Texas) Valley College (18-10). The Cardinals will compete in the NJCAA regionals, which conclude Sunday.
• Chyler Imai (Kohala) and Keirsa Pakani-Tsukiyama (Waiakea) are logging playing time at Western New Mexico (13-12, 10-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Imai has 90 digs while Pakani-Tsukiyama has 108 digs, seventh-highest for the Mustangs, who also have on roster Ziona Verhulsdonk (HPA, 2009) and Kassie Kagawa (Waiakea, 2010).
• Pua Hall (Kamehameha, 2009) completed her senior season at Bethel College (7-9-2), producing one goal and three assists. The midfielder closed her career with eight goals and 11 assists.
Hall followed a pipeline of BIIF players at the NAIA school in Indiana, including Amber Spencer and Mahina Costales (Kamehameha), Lisa Franke (Kealakehe) and JoBette Nabarro (Waiakea). That connection is likely to end next season with no BIIF players on the Pilots’ roster.