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Campo Verde’s Kanani Hiapo thrives on volleyball court, in the classroom

kananiKanani Hiapo grew up in a volleyball family.

Her siblings all play it. Her parents both coach it.

Yet, Hiapo, who is the captain of her club and Campo Verde High School team, has found her identity in the sport. Her actions there exemplify who she is and what she does outside of the lines.

One memory from junior high stands out to her as the beginning of her rare practice when it comes to sportsmanship.

“During a game, I ended up touching a ball. For blocking, you can’t really distinctly see the ball go off your fingertips. None of the line judges or the refs saw I touched it,” she said. “I ended up telling the truth. After that, our club is sort of known for telling the truth during games.”

She admits the truth has even cost her a game. During a nationals tournament in Florida more recently, Hiapo actually admitted her fault during a key play and the game’s officials changed their initial call. Her club team went on to lose.

Hiapo’s honesty and caring for others carries over into her schoolwork and her free time. She volunteers through her church, where she is a youth leader for younger girls.

Her father Brian and mother Vee, who are volleyball coaches, say her propensity to hug people — strangers included — stands out. Take, for example, one time after her team lost. She overheard an angry parent chastising her own play to her father, who was her coach at the time. Hiapo didn’t take the hurtful words to heart and didn’t hold a grudge. She ended up hugging the angry parent, shocking both her parents.

Hiapo sees herself comforting others down the road, too.

She attends Campo Verde for its biomedical sciences program with the hopes of becoming a pediatric doctor. The senior, whose weighted GPA is well above a 4.0, is working on a capstone project focused on injury and injury prevention for female athletes, and she’s also putting together a class documentary on her friend Max, a 15-year-old who suffers from a rare connective-tissue disorder.

That and watching her older brother go through medical school has shaped her individual goals.

She would like to work in pediatrics.

“Seeing him go through that process of being able to help people, that’s what I always wanted to do is help people just like that,” Hiapo said. “I like children, working with children. I went to Banner Children’s hospital in Phoenix, just seeing all those kids, that’s what motivated me more. That gave me the final drive to finish up my senior year and focus even more.”