Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, September 1, 1999

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

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Diana McInerny McKibbin has two sons - Riley, 10, and
Maddison, 8 - and is expecting a third child.

For this Wahine,
coming home
was the key

Diana McInerny McKibbin
helped set up the University of
Hawaii's first volleyball
championship in 1979

By Cindy Luis


You can come home again.

Diana McInerny McKibbin did it in a big way.

After two years at UC Santa Barbara, McKibbin was talked into transferring back to Hawaii. Her second and last season as a Wahine culminated in Hawaii's first national championship in 1979.

It was a long journey of frustration and elation. McKibbin spent most of her two Wahine seasons as a utility player, mostly in the back row; her final matches were spent in the spotlight as the unexpected choice of setter.

Hawaii All-American setter Rocky Elias had re-aggravated an injury early during regional play. Wahine coach Dave Shoji elected to go with McKibbin over sophomore Nahaku Brown "and it was disastrous," said McKibbin. "I was so horrible. We were horrible as a group.

"I couldn't put the ball where it should have been. It was shattering to my confidence. I felt like I had been kind of thrown to the wolves."

McInerny McKibbin

Bullet P.E. teacher and girls' varsity volleyball coach at Punahou School.
Bullet Living in Honolulu with husband Angus McKibbin. Two sons: Riley, 10, and Maddison, 8. Third child due in January.
Bullet Post-UH career: Denver Comets (1980); pro league in Switzerland; recreational league player.

The Wahine finished second at the regional, losing to UCLA. McKibbin spent the next two weeks training with assistant Alan Kang, not knowing if Elias would return in time for the nationals.

Elias didn't. At Carbondale, Ill, with McKibbin setting, Hawaii swept through pool play without losing a set in the best-of-three format.

"It was going well and my setting was consistent and solid," said McKibbin. "I continued to gain the team's confidence. The coaches told me just to keep doing what I was doing, just stick with the basics.

"In the two weeks before the nationals, I did a lot of visualizing. I spent nights thinking about where the ball needed to go. It was a real character check for me, a real soul-searching time for me. But I was up for the challenge."

McKibbin said she felt in a "zone" at the nationals. In the final against Utah State, Hawaii had dropped the first two games to the Aggies but "we didn't feel defeated. I always felt we would come back and win it.

"Game 3 we came out all fired up. The momentum had changed drastically. We had so many graduating seniors and a lot of us were local. This was our last chance. It was kind of scary, but it was exciting. We knew we could rely on each other. It still gives me chills because it was such a special time."

Two years of frustration ended for McKibbin when Bonnie Gouveia put down the final point.

"It was hard, coming back home and it not working out the way I had hoped," said the Kamehameha Schools graduate. "I just wanted to get on the court. I didn't care where I played.

"At Santa Barbara, I was a starting outside hitter (at 5-foot-7). I had wanted to set there but didn't get the chance. When I first came back, it wasn't a real open-arms feeling. Maybe some of the girls felt I had sold out by going away. It wasn't easy. As much as I wanted to stay at Santa Barbara, my family wanted me home. It was probably the best I choice I made."

Her collegiate career ended, but McKibbin went on to play professionally for the Denver Comets and in Switzerland. She finished her degree at UH in 1983 and began teaching physical education at Punahou School.

McKibbin is in her 15th year at Punahou and going into her fourth year as varsity girls' volleyball coach. She married Angus McKibbin in 1985; they have two sons (Riley, 10, and Maddison, 8) and are expecting a third in January.

McKibbin still enjoys volleyball. She plays indoor and on the beach.

"It was nice being a part of the first championship," said McKibbin. "It was the first for any sport at UH and people still remember us to a certain degree. I think it got people really excited about volleyball, that it looked like Hawaii was going to make a real stand in the sport."
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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