Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Alaka‘i Todd among local 4 named to USA beach volleyball collegiate roster

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Alaka‘i Todd figured out how to apply his time before the next step of his volleyball career.

Todd, the former University of Hawaii opposite, was among 15 players recently named to the 2024 USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate National Team that will train in Hermosa Beach, Calif., starting Tuesday.

“It’s an awesome opportunity, and definitely great to still be on the radar of USA beach volleyball, or national USA volleyball in general, to be in their eyes and ears and they recognize that I’m an option either for the beach or indoor team,” Todd told Spectrum News in a phone interview Monday.

The 6-foot-9 Kailua native capped his six years at UH with his most consistent and meaningful action of his career in 2024, hitting .329 and leading the 23-7 Rainbow Warriors with 3.14 kills per set. He was named an AVCA All-America honorable mention.

He attained his master’s degree and walked in spring graduation, but that doesn’t prevent him from participating on the USA collegiate team as a prelude to a pro indoor career. He is one of four players with Hawaii ties to make the roster, along with Iolani School graduate Kupuno Browne (BYU), Punahou School graduate Riley Haine (USC), and former UH hitter Derek Bradford (Santa Monica College).

Todd, who is the tallest player on the roster along with Bradford, said he was pleasantly surprised to see that many local players named.

“I think they should give our guys (from Hawaii) more attention, because there’s a lot of other guys who could be on that team who are really good,” he said.

While Hawaii volleyball fans might associate Todd with the indoor game, his volleyball origins were on the beach. He recalled a Waikiki surf session with his father as a youth that became some impromptu participation in a beach volleyball clinic put on the club that is now known as Spike N Serve.

He subsequently made friends with the likes of fellow future Punahou stars Ryan Wilcox and Kana‘i Akana and his love for the game grew from there.

Todd said the collegiate team had expressed interest in him for a spot on the roster earlier in his career, but this time it came with the addition of covered expenses.

“It was a no-brainer to go represent my school at the highest level of competition,” he said.

He will compete with the other invitees – who include some USA Volleyball A2 Beach National Team players – in teams of two until next Monday. At that point, the Beach Senior National Team NORCECA trials get underway June 18 and 19. Winners will represent the U.S. in upcoming NORCECA play.

Todd said he will announce on Instagram in the coming days his signing with an indoor team in Europe.

He hopes what he will show on the sand in the meantime will be an expansion of his role as a hitter and blocker as an indoor opposite, particularly in serve-receive.

“Indoor, (people have) seen me switch it up, do some roll shots or tips in-game. It’s a translation from my beach game into my indoor game. So, they work hand in hand very well,” Todd said.

Lewis coach Dan Friend will coach the USA men’s beach collegiate team.

No players with known Hawaii ties were named to the USA women’s college beach roster.

Brian McInnis covers the state’s sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at brian.mcinnis@charter.com.

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