The influence has been there in practice and from the chairs during matches, but the Skyline volleyball players are getting a full idea of what it is like to play with Kamaile Hiapo.
Hiapo had to sit out the first half of the season after transferring from Campo Verde so she did her best to help the players without playing in the matches.
Now she’s back on the court and Hiapo helped lead the Coyotes to the Pearl Division champion with a 7-0 record at the Nike Tournament of Champions.
“We’ve waited for my daughter to become eligible so she could help the girls know that they could win,” Skyline coach Vee Hiapo said. “The plan for the turn around to take place is ready to take place now.”
The Coyotes went 4-0 in pool play against Thatcher, Thunderbird, Morenci and Leading Edge Academy before Morenci, Sabino and Arcadia in bracket play.
Skyline beat Arcadia, 21-25, 25-20 and 15-10 in the championship match.
The Coyotes has been on of the woeful big-school programs in Arizona.
Hiapo, a junior, was an all-state player for Campo Verde last year at outside hitter when she had 340 kills. Then this summer she played for top programs like Molten and AZ High Performance.
It’s a level of play the rest of the Skyline players are doing their best to match, bringing everyone’s effort level highers.
“She put on a show, but her teammates didn’t know how to play with fatigue factor,” Coach Hiapo said. “We are still growing together.”
Mesa finished in fifth place in the Bronze division with a 3-3 record overall, while Dobson went 4-3 to finish fifth in the Pearl Division.
The Mountain View squads had the best showings at the Desert Twilight Festival in Casa Grande.
The boys squad finished fifth in the 5,000-meter large school open, while the Toros’ girls were 10th.
The Skyline boys were 10th behind Grant Kennedy’s school-record time of 15:56 for a 5K, while the Red Mountain girls were 11th.
Red Mountain senior Abby Mann made the semifinals at the Independence Invitational in Glendale.
Send all high school varsity results to jskoda@MyNewsMesa.com.