Looking back at Hawaii's top sports stories for 2022

Dec. 31—The University of Hawaii football program was in the news in 2022 much more for what happened off the field than on it.

1. Hawaii football program The University of Hawaii football program was in the news in 2022 much more for what happened off the field than on it.

Maybe that was a good thing considering the Warriors went 3-10 this fall, suffering through their first season of double-figure losses since 2013.

UH got a new coach with a familiar name in January, though not the one some supporters had hoped for ; former Warriors coach June Jones didn't get the job, but one of his most famous players did.

Timmy Chang, who set NCAA records as a UH quarterback two decades ago, was hired to replace Todd Graham.

Graham had resigned under pressure after two seasons. Although the Warriors were 11-11 and qualified for bowl games both years, Graham was sharply criticized by many players for his coaching style. Several stars, including co-captains Chevan Cordeiro and Darius Muasau, left the team via the transfer portal.

Due to the pandemic, spectators were not allowed at most of UH's home games in 2020 and 2021.

These circumstances left Chang with the unenviable task of rebuilding both the roster and the fan base. And if that's not enough of a challenge, he must recruit to a program without a full-sized stadium.

Home games are no longer at the 50, 000-seat Aloha Stadium, where UH last played in 2020 before it was shuttered. The Warriors have since played at the 9, 300-seat on-campus Clarence T.C. Ching Complex, and will until the new Aloha Stadium is built (Ching is scheduled for renovations to bring capacity to 17, 000 in time for the 2023 season opener ).

The state Legislature approved $350 million last session to build the new Aloha Stadium, with the most recent estimate for opening in 2027.

In September, then-Gov. David Ige halted work on a public private partnership, in favor of a stand-alone stadium. But when Josh Green took office this month, the new governor said he intends to move forward with the original plan that has been worked on the past two years at a cost of more than $20 million.

2. Another NCAA title The UH men's volleyball team successfully defended its national championship with a sweep over rival Long Beach State in May.

Spyros Chakas had 14 kills, an ace and three blocks in the final match and was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament.

Hawaii (27-5 ) became the fifth consecutive men's volleyball team to repeat its national championship. UH did it without four players who won All-America honors in 2021.

"Just having a whole new team and the work that everyone put in, seeing how hard everyone worked in the practice gym ... this one is sweeter, " said setter Jakob Thelle, who was named Big West Player of the Year.

The Warriors also made UH history, joining the women's volleyball squads of 1982 and 1983 as the only back-to-back team national champions in school annals.

3. Alo /Moore /Title IX It was a big year for Jocelyn Alo and Carissa Moore, two of Hawaii's all-time greatest athletes. The facts that they are women and 2022 was the 50th anniversary of Title IX—the legislation ensuring gender equity in educational opportunities, including interscholastic sports—were coincidental but also fitting.

Moore won the Sullivan Award, which goes to the most outstanding United States college or Olympic athlete. The Punahou graduate won the first surfing Olympic gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Games.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Alo were also among the finalists.

Alo, a Kahuku and Campbell alum, set the career college softball home run record while leading Oklahoma to its second NCAA championship in a row and earning national Player of the Year honors.

4. Kahuku Kahuku did it again, repeating as the state Open Division champions in football with a 20-0 victory over Mililani.

Coach Sterling Carvalho's team also finished No. 25 in the MaxPreps Top 25 national rankings.

Kahuku hasn't lost against a Hawaii opponent since 2020. It went 12-2 this year, with the only losses to MaxPreps No. 1 St. John Bosco (California ) and No. 8 St. Frances Academy (Maryland ).

5. Little League When Hawaii won its first Little League World Series in 2005, the squad from Ewa Beach needed Michael Memea's walk-off home run to edge a team from Curacao in the title game.

In 2022, Hawaii won its fourth LLWS championship, also coming from behind against Curacao. This time, though, the team from Honolulu never trailed again after back-to-back home runs by Kekoa Payanal and Kama Angell in the bottom of the first inning, on its way to a 13-3, four-inning blowout.

The Hawaii team dominated throughout the tournament, outscoring its opponents 60-5 in six wins.

It's the Honolulu Little League's second world championship in five years under manager Gerald Oda.

Hawaii's four championships are the most of any state since 2000, and tied for second all-time after California's seven.