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On Scholarship: HPA grad Tiana Reynolds blazing new trail


As soon as her airplane touched down in Seattle last week, Tiana Reynolds hit the ground running, gathering school equipment and getting in shape for volleyball at Centralia College.

The 2014 Hawaii Preparatory Academy graduate and her mother Nicky Reynolds flew out last Friday to be in time for Trailblazers coach Susan Gordon’s rigid military camp.

Reynolds, a 5-foot, 9-inch outside hitter, was intending to head to Lewis & Clark to play volleyball and basketball, but she landed a scholarship through the ncsasports.org website that covers 65 percent of her collegiate package. A work-study program will take care of the rest.

Reynolds and her mom made the 90-minute drive on Sunday to the 4,800-student college and set up at its off-campus volleyball housing unit.

“The training is really hard,” Reynolds said. “On Monday, we had three hours, 1 ½ hours in the morning and 1 ½ hours in the afternoon. It’s crazy. There’s a lot of cardio and lifting. I don’t know when it’ll end, probably until the season starts.

“I didn’t know Centralia existed. But Courtney Kaupu (2013 Konawaena graduate) plays basketball here. I thought I was totally in shape. I’ve done pretty well in the conditioning, coming in second for most of the stuff. It’s really hard. She pushes us to the limit. She’s really tough, but a nice person, down-to-earth.”

Still, the 2013 Big Island Interscholastic Federation first-team pick at outside hitter felt her muscles barking Tuesday morning. The season starts Sept. 18, so there’s no early expiration date to the grunt work.

HPA coach Sharon Peterson prepared her mentally while her mom was her youth coach for basketball and volleyball, and didn’t lift a foot off the gas pedal.

“I’m so sore. I woke up this morning and couldn’t even walk,” Reynolds said. “Every day at practice, Sharon would talk how to be mentally tough for everything, to give 110 percent. My mom helped coach me, and pushed me to the limits as well.”

Dual pipeline

Reynolds is the first volleyball player at Centralia from the Big Island. She’s thinking of walking on to the basketball team and hoping her sister Tehane joins her next school year.

“It was really sad leaving her at the airport,” Reynolds said. “If she comes up next year, it’ll be like nothing happened. We text all day when I’m on break, like how my days are going.

“The campus is really nice. It’s really small and two minutes from school, so you can walk. It’s a nice college for Hawaii kids. Everything is around the area. You can bike to each spot off-campus.”

Reynolds wants to pass the word to Gordon that the Big Island is stocked with volleyball talent. She hopes a few former HPA teammates join her.

In a nod to Carla Carpenter-Kabalis’ HI Intensity club team, Reynolds is the latest pupil to sign on to play college ball. Other scholarship club players and 2014 graduates are Amanda Loeffler, Hilo High, Pacific Union; Angel Alameda and Evalani Toledo, Hilo, Eastern Arizona.

In fact, off the All-BIIF Division II team, three others signed to play college ball: Maxine Block, Pahoa, Dakota Wesleyan (South Dakota); Toni Beck, Ka‘u, Briar Cliff (Iowa); Kamalani Fujikawa, Ka‘u, Shoreline (Wash.) College.

Also, Makani Wall, Konawaena, is at Irvine Valley College, and Carina Verhulsdonk, HPA, went to Western New Mexico. Leeta Grap, a 2012 HPA graduate, transferred to WNMU after two years at North Idaho College.