Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

W A H I N E _ V O L L E Y B A L L

Utility player
came through in
the clutch

Unlikely hero Bonnie Gouveia Bail
scored championship
point in 1979

By Cindy Luis


This is the 13th in a weekly series featuring the 1979 University of Hawaii women's volleyball team, the Wahine's first national championship.

BONNIE Gouveia Bail took her best swing at posterity and it won a national title.

It was the 5-foot-8 Gouveia who angled a shot off the taller Utah State block at match point. About the time the ball hit the court, two realities hit the Castle High product: Not only was the match over, but so was her volleyball playing career.

"I haven't played since and have had no interest in playing,'' said Bail, a customer service representative in the Hawaii Kai Federal Express office. "For many years, I dedicated myself to volleyball and, when it was over with that final shot, it was over for me.

"I closed the door. It was time to move on.''

But on rare occasions, the door creaks open.

"When my in-laws from Boston were visiting recently, we went to a game,'' said Bail. "At the beginning of the game, I got chicken skin when looking up at the banner that I was a part of. It is a source of pride.

"It was a great moment in my life and what I realize even more is that I played on a team of very talented women.''

Bail had a unique role among them. She was not a starter and usually came off the bench at a moment's notice.


"It was a difficult role,'' said Alan Kang, the assistant coach in 1979. "When Dave (Shoji) needed someone to pass, she got off the bench to pass. When he needed someone to hit, she got off the bench to hit. All (senior) year, her role was to come in for 30 seconds or a minute and play well immediately.

"It's something to be able to come off the bench cold. It wasn't 'Bonnie, warm up.' It was 'Bonnie, you're in.' Looking back on it, her role prepared her for that moment when we needed her in the championship.''

Bail didn't see the court until Game 3 after the Wahine had lost the first two games to Utah State in the AIAW final, 8-15, 7-15, in Carbondale, Ill.

"I waited patiently on the bench until subbing in the third set,'' she recalled. "But from the moment I walked on the court, I became very focused. Not on winning a national title but on doing what was necessary to get the next point, and the next one and the next.

"When we won the third set (15-9), I knew it would be a long night.''

The Wahine rallied against the defending national champs, tying it at 14-14 in Game 4.

"We could have lost it right there,'' said Bail, "but we hung in there and pushed it to Game 5. Now we were even. It was a whole new game.

"And that winning shot ... I didn't expect that set but the ball came to me. I hadn't been able to penetrate their wall so I had to 'tool' the block. The ball deflected off their block and dropped to their side of the court.

"I was exhausted. We were all exhausted. It was a wonderful moment, certainly one of the most memorable of my life. And, as I look back, I appreciate it even more.''

Looking back on Bail's road to becoming a Wahine, one appreciates her tenacity just as much. She began playing the sport in junior high and played year-round at the USVBA, AAU and PacRim levels.

After graduating from Castle in 1976, she decided to walk-on at UH. She showed up on the third day of tryouts.

"I was not aware the tryouts had begun,'' said Bail. "After that first day, I wasn't sure I'd make it home to Kaneohe. I was so tired I couldn't push the clutch in on my VW. I had to pull off to the side of the road to rest.

"But I came back the next day. After the end of the tryouts, Shoji wasn't sure whether to keep me or not. He asked that I continue working out with the team. The following semester, I was awarded a scholarship. I was very grateful because it allowed me to move on campus, it paid for my education and allowed me to travel.''

The most memorable trip was to Illinois in December of 1979. Her parents, John and Diane Gouveia, were among a number of parents who made the journey to the AIAW national tournament.

"I remember all the ti leaves they had,'' said Bail. "It was such a proud moment for all the parents, for them to watch their daughters.

"It was a team with a lot of heart and I'm proud to have been a part of that. Our winning was a significant step for the program. We paved the way for women in athletics. It gave them hope and a dream. That's reflected in what the program has become. They have a very good team this year. It would be nice to add another banner.''

Bail received her degree in secondary education from UH in 1980 and went on to teach and coach at La Pietra. She and Fred, her husband of 16 years, live in Maunawili.

Bail asked to dedicate her story to her father John, who passed away last August, the day before she turned 41.
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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