Although she is an outside hitter, Chaminade's Kahala Kabalis impresses her mother and coaches most by her ability to do the little things.

Out of the shadows

Chaminade's Kabalis,
daughter of a legend, is
making a name for herself

By Jerry Campany

Back in the formative years of small-college volleyball in Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo jumped into national prominence on the abilities of Carla Carpenter and Glennie Adams.

Now, Chaminade hopes to do the same with similar bloodlines.

Adams is off to her best start in her eight years as coach of the Silverswords, thanks in large part to sophomore outside hitter Kahala Kabalis, who is more than familiar with the Vulcans of 1979-81.

Kabalis is Carla Carpenter-Kabalis' oldest daughter, and grew up hearing about that treasured team, along with her mother's many other accomplishments. Getting out from under her shadow, along with living up to the standards of the FBI, whom she hopes to work for one day, shaped so many of her decisions on her way to adulthood.

She spurned volleyball for swimming until she was in the seventh grade. When the game's constant presence finally wore her down -- it's not just Carla, who is the head coach at Hilo High School; Kahala's father and entire family love and share the game -- she transferred from Waiakea to Moanalua High School to get more exposure as the player she was, not the player her mother was. After high school she went to college at Metro State in Colorado, light years away from the name and the comparisons that come with being the daughter of a three-time national champion.

Then it started to snow, and she knew it was time to come home and face what she had been alternately loving and hating all of her life.

Chaminade's Kahala Kabalis.

So, telling herself that she simply didn't like the cold weather, Kahala returned to play at Chaminade for Carla's old teammate. That she chose her mother's old friend to play for was nothing more than a coincidence.

"She (Carla) is friends with all the coaches, so I probably could have gone anywhere, but I liked Chaminade's criminal justice program," Kahala said.

Her days of thinking about the comparisons as a bad thing were done. Now she welcomes them, wishing she could take on her mother's hyphenated name to honor her mother and her grandparents, Dante and Olan Carpenter, who took her in when she transferred to Moanalua. She says they had as much to do with the player she is today as her mother.

But the comparisons rarely come at Chaminade, where the fan base is largely made up of students who don't know or care about their coach's accomplishments so long ago. But for the straggling old-timer who sees Carla reincarnated on the court, Kahala has a simple answer.

"I am proud to be her daughter, it's not hard," Kahala said. "But my goal is for people to see me and say that I am so much better than she was. That's what she wants, too."

According to those who know her best, she is on her way to achieving that goal. Kahala is seventh in the conference in kills and service aces, and is fifth in digs. Adams says she plays a different game than Carla's attacking style, but she is on her way to having the well-rounded game that Carla worked toward.

"She is already better than me at that age, No. 1, hands down, because she can set," Carla said. "I was an animal when I played. If I made a mistake I got mad at the world forever and ever. Kahala has the talent and maturity and all of the positive qualities I wish I had."

Kahala has the ability to leave the game on the court, but while the ball is in the air, she is every bit as competitive as her mother was. But since she only started playing when she was in seventh grade, she is still learning.

"What's keeping her going is her attitude," Adams said. "She is so hungry to learn."

The two are clones in another respect. They both understand that volleyball is a team game, that chemistry matters a whole lot more than individual statistics. It is Kahala's belief that her Silverswords are 8-1 not because of their front line of her, Valasi Sepulona and Audrey Brady, but because of those who greet them on the sideline after another game won.

"We don't really have one leader, everybody is very supportive of everybody," Kahala said. "It's not only the people on the court; after games our bench is as drained as the starters because they are so busy supporting us. Our bench is something we have that other teams don't have."

Although she is rarely compared to her mother any more, Kahala will have to face the whispers again this season. She and the Silverswords visit Sharon Peterson -- who coached Carpenter and Adams to those championships so long ago -- and the Vulcans on Oct. 11 and 12.

"Just wait 'til we go to Hilo," Adams said. "Everyone knows Carla there."

Chaminade Sports

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