The Akana sisters of Kamehameha have one last season playing together

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Kamehameha has won 21 state volleyball titles, including last year’s. There are two sisters on the team who grew up playing together, but this seasons championship defense will be their last time sharing a court. 

“It’s so interesting to see how different each one is in their own way,” said Kamehameha head volleyball coach Chris Blake. “But they’re both great contributors and help to make everybody around them better.

Braelyn and Keonilei Akana are best friends. They’re 18 months apart and grew up playing volleyball together. Now, they play club and high school together. And drive to school every day from the North Shore. 

“Always side-by-side,” said Keonilei, a junior, and the younger of the duo. “I don’t know what I would do without her.”

“They’re always getting at each other,” explained Blake. “When they’re on the same side there’s a little bit of fighting here and there, which is a good thing. But it’s interesting to see when they’re on opposite sides of the court because they get after it and I think both of their leadership, Keonilei and Brae, through their play shows everybody the level that we have to do.”

The sisters’ mother is Jocelyn Robins, star player for the University of Hawaii in the 90’s. That might have been a factor when Braelyn was deciding where to play at the next level. 

“I’m very excited for UH,” she said. “I’m ready to just work with Coach Rob and Coach Ang and Coach Kaleo and just with the girls. I’m really excited to be part of the team.”

But the younger of the sisters has chosen a separate path. She’ll play college volleyball at USC. 

“I knew that it would be a hard time when she would graduate and then later on, I would,” reflected Keonilei. “So I knew that we would have to split up eventually. But it was a sad decision knowing that we wouldn’t play to be playing together after such a long time. But after going to the camp I had such a fun time. And the visit was really nice, the campus was really nice. And I just felt like I could be there and I could see me there.”

Braelyn’s recruiting efforts weren’t quite enough. 

“I tried,” she said. “I tried to get her. But I know our time apart will be wisely spent. 

Once both are playing in college, a Wahine/Trojan head-to-head matchup is possible. But the majority of the school year will take some getting used to. 

“I think we’ll be okay,” said Braelyn. “Facetime calls will definitely come in though.”

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