During the National Team tryouts last month, United Volleyball Club hitter Kalei Mau mentioned that “it’s important for me to get a setter right now because I haven’t really connected with a setter for like two years”. That timeline dates back to her first pro season with Indias de Mayaguez in Puerto Rico.
Now, she finally got what she desired and it happened by connecting with a fellow athlete.
The former University of Arizona Wildcat was sharing a Thanksgiving Day dinner last year with Rain Or Shine Elastopainters veteran Gabe Norwood when she mentioned her volleyball career and Filipino lineage. That’s when the long-time Gilas Pilipinas standout brought up his cousin, Alohi Robins-Hardy, who played US NCAA women’s volleyball for Brigham Young University.
She then relayed the word to UVC team manager Joshua Ylaya who struck a contract buy-out with Robins-Hardy’s Serbian club, making the 6’2″ setter free to join United Volleyball Club. Aside from the tip from Norwood, Mau and Robins-Hardy are childhood friends even though they played for Henry Kaiser and Kamehameha High School, respectively.
While Robins-Hardy also enjoyed success playing for the high school basketball team, it was in volleyball wherein she led her school to a state championship in 2013. She was also named Hawai’i State Player of the Year and Division 1 State Tournament Most Valuable Player in the same year after leading her squad to a 32-2 record.
The daughter of Mary and Damien Hardy tallied 992 excellent sets and 275 digs throughout her four-year collegiate career with BYU. During her junior year, she became part of the USA Collegiate National Team that took part in 13th Annual European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia. Robins-Hardy also played for the Maunalani Volleyball Club before bringing her talents to ZOK Spartak Subotice the Serbian Super League.
The Hawaiian playmaker will now steer the UVC offense which has weapons like Mau, import Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani, Arianne Angustia, Amy Ahomiro, and Bang Pineda. Her height makes her a threat on net defense as well. Her attacking prowess also adds another dimension to United Volleyball’s attack. If everything goes well, she can be the key to bringing the unit to a medal finish.
National Team consideration?
Robins-Hardy will definitely get a look for the Philippine women’s volleyball team. But while her Filipino ancestry has already been established, she has to apply for a Filipino passport first before applying for transfer of federation with the FIVB. This is the same process that Mau and Sta. Lucia’s MJ Phillips have to undergo to be eligible for consideration.
Given her physical attributes, she could give Jia Morado and Kim Fajardo a run for their money. That connection with Mau will be a huge upside as well in boosting the National Team’s chances of getting a medal in the Southeast Asian Games later this year.