Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, July 19, 1999

H A W A I I _P R E P _ S P O R T S

Win was in genes

By Cindy Luis


When the Asics Rainbow Volleyball Club won the 14 girls' open age-group title at the USA Junior National volleyball championships earlier this month, some of Hawaii's highly respected athletic families joined in the celebration.

The family trees of the winners include two Olympians, two AAU champions, a high school football star and a slew of volleyball honors hanging on the branches belonging to the Nihipali ohana.

Hard work and great genes contributed to the Asics Rainbow 14s finishing the four-day event in New Orleans 10-1 overall, going 21-3 in sets. It was the first junior national title for Asics Rainbow in the club's nine-year history.

The team included: Meagan Watson, whose mother, Keala O'Sullivan Watson, won the bronze medal in diving at the 1968 Olympics; Puna Richardson, whose mother, Pokey Watson Richardson, won two Olympic swimming gold medals (400-meter freestyle relay in 1964 and 200-meter backstroke in 1968) and whose father, Dr. Allen Richardson, was an all-American swimmer and longtime physician for Wahine teams at the University of Hawaii; Alicia Arnott, whose father, Tom, has been on several winning teams for Outrigger Canoe Club, earning all-American honors; Emalia Pietsch, whose father, Jim, also played for Outrigger and captained Punahou to a state volleyball title; Ashley Dutro, whose father Henry, was a star running back at Aiea, went on to college honors and continues to compete successfully in age-group track meets; and Monia Nihipali, whose family roots dig deep into island volleyball lore from the grassroots of the 1960s through present-day college competition.

"This was a special team," said Jimbo Barrows, an assistant coach. "It had special parents who have special kids. I'm so happy for the team because they worked so hard, put hours and hours in the gym.

The other members are Crystal Ueno, Kiana Kauwe, Hoku Tamayori, Marrissa Chow, Jennifer Lee and Kanoe Kamana'o.

Former Wahine setter Kari Anderson was the head coach. Her assistants were Barrows and Neil Hong.

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