NCAA women's volleyball: Hawaii's Kalei Greeley can count on brothers cheering her on for Senior Day
The roots are deep, the branches of the family tree stretching across the Pacific, a vine-like embrace connecting Oahu and California.
Rediscovering her cultures — Hawaiian and volleyball — helped make Kalei Greeley's decision to play for the Rainbow Wahine an easy one. It was on her second trip to Honolulu that she fell in love with the sport that would go on to define her athletic career, on a family vacation that included attending her first volleyball camp — serendipitously in the Stan Sheriff Center, where she and five other Wahine seniors have their final home matches tonight and Saturday.
Sidelined for much of the past two seasons with various injuries, the 6-2 outside hitter hopes to see the court against Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State, if even as a back-row passing substitute. There will be a sign in the arena that will help plead her case, held up by her 6-5 twin brothers Kade and Karson, freshman members of the Hawaii football team who are not traveling for Saturday's game at UNLV.
"'Free KG' it reads and 'It's about getting her on the court,'" said Karson Greeley, a redshirt quarterback. "She's gone through so much with all her surgeries. I know it's hard for her not to be playing. Hopefully she'll get on the court."
That both her brothers will be in the stands is a rarity — the volleyball and football teams seldom have been playing in Honolulu the same weekend — but not as much of a rarity as having a brother-sister combo playing for Hawaii. (The most recent were the Sateles in 2010-11, with Chanteal playing volleyball and Liko football).
That KG3 — the three Greeleys — ended up on campus at the same time "was totally unexpected," Kalei said. "When I signed my letter of intent, I thought it would just be me here. It's crazy that it happened, but I'm so happy they are here. I've been blown away with all their support."
But if the twins miss a night when they are available, "There are a lot of questions," she said. "'Where were you? What was more important than my game?'
"It's been fun, but I know I'm a little overprotective. They moan and groan that I'm worse than our mom."
Baby bro is a 'bow now pic.twitter.com/LwrDsAMwkc— Kalei Greeley (@kaleigreeley) February 1, 2017
It hasn't gone unappreciated.
"College is a hard transition, and it's so much easier with her here, someone who can walk you through things," said Kade, a tight end who has scored two touchdowns in six games. "It is like having mom here. We make fun of that."
The twins also picked up a second sister in Wahine senior middle Emily Maglio, who has been Kalei Greeley's roommate and closest friend since freshman year.
Like the twins, Maglio is hoping for Greeley to play this week. An All-Big West awardee her first two seasons, Greeley has played briefly in 11 matches.
"It's been rough not having her on the court," Maglio said. "It was fun sophomore year when we both got to start. Nothing compares to playing the game you love with your best friend."
Greeley's love for volleyball began after the 13-year-old softball all-star was pushed into it by her parents, who said she wasn't putting her height to use.
"It was against my will," Greeley said, "Then I came to camp, loved all the coaches and players, even took a picture with (now-retired Wahine coach) Dave Shoji. I was so star-struck.
"I fell in love with the school, the island, everything about Hawaii. I fell in love with volleyball."
Greeley didn't realize then just how connected she was to the sport. Her great-uncle Jacob Alapaki Highland grew up just miles from the Manoa campus in Papakolea, and was a member of the inaugural U.S. men's Olympic volleyball team in 1964. Nicknamed "Jake the Legend," Highland attended Greeley's high school graduation luau in Riverside, California; he died in 2015).
"It's awesome that we are all representing the Hawaiian side of our family," she said.
Greeley graduates in the spring with a psychology degree and intends to pursue a master's in counseling. She's hoping to be accepted at Chaminade and watch her brothers play football ... and maybe volleyball. The twins were all-league at Murrieta Vista (Calif.) High, setting single-match school records, Kade a middle with 11 blocks and Karson on the outside with 27 kills.
Both said they're interested in playing volleyball for the Warriors.
This article is written by Cindy Luis from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.