Nobody can truly replace legendary setter Jakob Thelle for the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team, but Kevin Kauling will certainly try.
Kauling, a 6-foot-8 setter, was a four-year starter at Lewis and signed with the Rainbow Warriors as a graduate transfer on Monday. His true freshman season in 2020 was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing him another year of eligibility that’ll be used in 2024 at UH.
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Kauling earned All-MIVA honors three times and played in 19 matches in 2023 before he missed the rest of the season due to injury. The Illinois native finished his Lewis career with 2,624 assists, 233 kills, 57 aces, 352 digs and 181 blocks.
“I think the biggest thing is playing at the Stan. It’s like no other,” Kauling told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello on Monday. “You guys draw the most amount of fans. You guys bring the most excitement. That’s probably the most exciting thing I’m looking forward to is playing in such in front of such large crowds. I mean, I’ve been wanting to do that for my entire life.”
“I want to play at the highest level for volleyball, and there’s no bigger place than playing in front of the fans. I want to finish my collegiate career by playing for a national championship and winning a national championship. That’s kind of the big goal and everything else is just that comes along with it. Is this going to be super exciting.
“I’m super excited to have that little bit of a different experience and being a part of such a different culture and hopefully it changes me for the rest of my life.”
Kauling was part of a seven-member recruiting class announced by UH on Monday, which also includes Jamestown transfer Oguzhan Oguz and prized Serbian prospect Aleksa Mandic.
Hawaii’s full 2024 signing class is below (courtesy Hawaii Athletics):