By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
As 2,500 fans stood and applauded, a teary-eyed Lyndell Lindsey smiled and thanked everyone for their tremendous support of the Haili Men’s Volleyball Tournament. After all, for Lindsey and her relatives plus the thousands of players and volunteers that have participated in the tradition-rich event for almost 60 years, it’s always been about family.
And on Saturday — the final day of the 56th edition of the beloved Haili Tournament, Lindsey held a microphone while looking around a mostly filled Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and took it all in. She could see many of the tournament’s volunteers or players wearing pink T-shirts, symbolizing her fight against breast cancer.
“I’ve twice battled breast cancer and survived it,” she said, then asking others in the Civic to stand if they, too were cancer survivors.
“You’re an inspiration to all of us,” Lindsey said in a chicken-skin moment.
One of the survivors was Olan Carpenter, the wife of former Big Island mayor Dante Carpenter. She was there to watch her daughter Carla Carpenter-Kabalis coach Hi Intensity and three grandchildren play in the women’s AA championship match against the mighty Sawaiians from the Oahu, the two-time defending champions.
But at this particular moment, the fans focused their attention on the soft-spoken Lindsey, who the Haili tournament was honoring for her unyielding support and positive influence for the 56 years of the event.
“This is my 50th year playing in the Haili tournament,” the 63-year-old Lindsey, decked in lei, said. “I’ve only missed playing one time when I had a broken leg, and I was still hopping around the Civic with a cast that year.
“Volleyball has been a major part of my life and the Haili tournament has been a blessing for all of us.”
Lindsey, a former setter who along with her talented sister, Sweetie Osorio, helped lead the University of Hawaii at Hilo volleyball team to a national title in the late 1970s, has been the director for E Maka’ala School for 38 years.
On Saturday morning, she led a Haili team to the women’s masters 45 title and was named the division’s most valuable player. In the afternoon, she watched Carpenter-Kabalis, another former UH-Hilo standout, coach Hi Intensity to a 25-27, 25-22, 15-10 win over the Sawaiians in the women’s AA final.
Carpenter-Kabalis’ daughters — Kahala, Kaleinani and Kuulei — all were key contributors to the win as grandmother Olan looked on proudly.
“You know, all three of my daughters and my son attended E Maka’ala under Lyndell,” Carpenter-Kabalis said. “I’m sure this is a proud moment for her.”
Each daughter went on to become volleyball stars in college — Kahala at Chaminade University, Kaleinani at Northern State in South Dakota, and Kuulei at Kansas State. And before moving on to their four-year schools, Kaleinani and Kuulei played together a year in junior college at Western Nebraska. Then as a sophomore, Kuulei played on that JC’s national title team.
But with the three daughters playing together for a talented squad on Saturday and Lindsey watching, Hi Intensity rallied to beat the Sawaiians in a hard-fought final.
“What a wonderful moment,” Lindsey said afterwards, smiling as Hi Intensity celebrated the victory. “And to think, Carla’s children went to E Maka’ala School.”
Hi Intensity’s Deven Bukoski was named the division’s most outstanding player while Camilla Ah Hoy of the Sawaiians earned the most valuable player award.
The all-stars included Nui Tuitele of the Sawaiians, Krystal Tsukano of Hi Life; Dancyne Kama of Hotty; and Dani Mafua, Ku’ulei Kabalis and Valasi Sepulone of Hi Intensity.
A total of 138 teams participated in the six-day Haili tournament this year.
Other division results follow:
Kailua Volleyball Club fought past Big Island Boys 25-18, 25-20 in a hard-hitting match to claim the division title.
Kailua VBC was led by tournament all-stars Nick Castello and Rory Brandt plus the hitting of Maulia Labarre, Joshua Day and Jacob Muise.
Isaac Kneubuhl of Big Island Boys was named the division’s most valuable player (MVP) and he was joined on the all-star squad by teammate Duncan Budinger, the brother of NBA player Chase Budinger.
Louis Mafua of Leviticus (Oahu) was selected the division’s most outstanding player (MOP).
Rounding out the all-stars were Shelton Keliikane and Clayton Morante of Lil Braddahz and Alika DeRego of Leviticus.
Leviticus placed third while Sons was named the sportsmanship winner.
XLNC (Oahu) def. Hilo VBC 25-22, 27-25 in the final.
Hilo VBC, coached by Tim Waugh, is the club volleyball team at UH-Hilo.
Pilipaa’a def. All Attitude 25-20, 25-21 for third place.
MVP: Haili Men’s VBC’s Bryson Caravalho.
MOP: Kelena Palencia, XLNC.
All-Stars: Mamane Namahoe, Dillon Rellez, Pilipa’a; Justin Allen, Tasiaeate Sua, XLNC; Jacob Naki, Lucas Moe, Haili Men’s VBC.
Sportsmanship: Saints VBC.
Lanikai Athletic Club def. Hi Intensity Sawaiians in the final.
Hotty def. Hi Life 25-20, 17-25, 15-8 for third place.
MVP: Shelly Singlehurst, Lanikai AC.
MOP: Kelly Leopaldo, Hi Intensity Saawaiians.
All-Stars: Janeen Watanabe, Hi Intensity-Nena; Sheri Kaehuaea, No Pressure; Phobe Fetu, Tajhe Puaauli-Puahi, Hi Intensity Sawaiians; Jessica Simmons, Sonja Samsonas, Lanikai AC.
Sportsmanship: Against All Odds.
Stoked (Oahu) def. Hi Life 23-25, 25-23, 15-10 in the final.
Pono Stars def. Tulouna Samoa 25-23, 16-25, 23-21 for third place.
MVP: Daniel Young, Hi Life.
MOP: Kamuela Kalehuawehe, Stoked.
All-Stars: Alan Kissinger, Bryson Sevilla, Stoked; Kaimi Comilla, Dylan Comilla, Pono Stars; Tuipunapuna Fa’alogo, Tulouna Samoa I; Rodney Yama, Hi Life.
Sportsmanship: Southside 14.
Lanakila 18s (Oahu) def. All Out 25-16, 25-23 in the final.
Keaukaha def. Natives 25-13, 25-17 for third place.
MVP: Keila Ah Mow, All Out.
MOP: Gienna Davis, Lanakila.
All-Stars:Heather Kaikuana, Kahealani Vento-Rowe, Keaukaha; Denise Tu, Tracie Akimoto, All Out; Pakalana Snow Helekahi-Cass, Alexis Javier-Kepahi, Lanakila.
Sportsmanship: Tulouna Samoa
Hemolele def. Island Sons (Oahu) 25-19, 25-21 in the final.
Big Island Boys def. SAP 25-21, 25-17 for third place.
MVP: Lance Rowe, Hemolele.
MOP: Wendell “Sammy” Kaehuaea, Hemolele.
All-Stars: Cy Alicuben, Big Island Boys; Duke Robins, Dayne Teves, Sean Robins, Island Sons; Alex Smith, SAP; Kawika Valdez, Hemolele.
No Pressure def. Haili Masters 25-12, 25-21 in the final.
Cuzins def. Red Star 12-25, 25-14, 15-9 for third place.
MVP: Ka’ala Hanson, No Pressure.
MOP: Edna Togiai, Haili Masters A.
All-Stars: Dale Nabalta, Red Star; Melanie Keolanui, Michelle Norman, No Pressure; Tammy Spaar, Cuzins; Dawn Aiona, Sweetie Osorio, Haili Masters A.
Women’s Masters 45s
Haili Masters def. Puakenekene (Hilo) in the final.
Lokahi claimed third place.
MVP: Lyndell Lindsey, Haili Masters.
MOP: Lena Rowe, Puakenekene.
All-Stars: Prandi Guerreiro, Terry Smalley, Lokahi; Wendy (Mei Ling) Bailado, Nalani Viveiros, Carla Carpenter-Kabalis, Haili Masters; Pauline Ah Choy, Puakenekene.
Junior Co-ed 10
1. Piopio Bears-Yosh; 2. Cuzins; 3. Mang. Sportsmanship: Maunalani.
Junior girls 18
1. Pilipa’a; 2. Hi Intensity-Hilo; 3. Keaukaha. Sportsmanship: Pahoa.
Junior girls 16
1. Pilipa’a; 2. Hopuna; 3. Haili 16. Sportsmanship: Hi Intensity.
Junior girls 14
1. Hi Intensity-Black; 2. Piopio Bears-Ke’oke’o; 3. Keaukaha Cuzins Red. Sportsmanship: Hemolele.
Junior girls 12
1. Hilipono (Piopio Bears); 2. Keaukaha Cuzins; 3. Mana. Sportsmanship: Haili 12s.
Junior boys 14
1. Southside Boys; 2. Lanakila; 3. Miloli’i. Sportsmanship: Milioli’i.
Junior boys 12
1. Keaukaha; 2. Keaukaha. Sportsmanship: Nawahi-Wiwo’ole.
Boys 10 & under
1. Keaukaha Cuzins; 2. Hemolele. Sportsmanship: Hemolele.
Note: In the junior divisions, there were no individual awards presented.