UH unveils 32nd class for Circle of Honor

© University of Hawaii
© University of Hawaii

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai'i Athletics Department is proud to recognize seven outstanding individuals as the newest inductees into the UH Sports Circle of Honor. The Class of 2013 includes Reydan "Tita" Ahuna (volleyball), QiongJie (Huang) Drew (diving), Diane (Sebastian) Pestolesi (volleyball), Rose (Thomas) Jones & Rosie (Vera Cruz) Bareis (tennis), and Falaniko "Niko" Noga & Alapati "Al" Noga (football).

This year's class represents the very best of UH Athletics including one national champion and five All-Americans. Drew is the first diver inducted into the circle while Jones and Bareis are the first tennis players to enter. Ahuna and Pestolesi are the ninth and 10th women's volleyball players and both are part of teams – 1987 and 1979, respectively, who have already been inducted. The Noga brothers are the 29th and 30th football players among the 116 individuals and teams who are honored in the circle.

The seven inductees will be officially enshrined as the Circle's 32nd class during halftime of the men's basketball game at the Stan Sheriff Center, Saturday, March 8.

The official Circle of Honor press conference will be held on Friday, March 7 at 11:00 a.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center's Ed Wong Hospitality Room.

In recent years, the induction festivities was held during UH's Homecoming Week with the formal induction at the women's volleyball match and an appearance at the football game, however, this season the women's volleyball team was not home that weekend.

The Circle of Honor started in 1982 to recognize individuals and teams who have contributed to the growth, history and tradition of UH Athletics. The total number of inductees in the Circle of Honor is 106, including this year's honorees. Ten teams have also been enshrined. Plaques honoring the individuals and teams are anchored on the inner walls surrounding the main concourse of the Stan Sheriff Center.
Brief biographies of the Circle of Honor Class of 2013 inductees are listed below: 
Ahuna (1984-87) was the captain of UH's last NCAA Championship team in 1987. She was a two-time AVCA All-American (1985-86), USVBA All-American (1986-87) and USVBA tournament MVP (1986-87), and was the first Rainbow Wahine to reach the 1,000-kill, 1,000-dig plateau and still ranks in the UH record book in career kills, attempts, aces, digs, and digs per game.  She later coached Hawai'i Pacific University to two NCAA Division II titles (1998, 2000) and her 2000 team was the first to finish undefeated in Division II history at 28-0. She was named national Coach of the Year that same year. The coach of two Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama boys' state title teams, she is the only person in Hawai'i volleyball history to win high school, state, and national collegiate titles as both a player and coach.
Huang, an eight-time All-American over three seasons (2004-06), was Hawai'i's first national  champion in diving winning the 1-meter springboard at the 2005 NCAA Championships and in the process, broke the points record. She also was fourth in the 3-meter, 18th in the platform at the 2005 national championships. A five-time WAC champion in both the 1-meter (2004-06) and 3-meter (2004-05), she helped the Rainbow Wahine to their first WAC title in 2006. The two-time WAC Diver of Year (2004, '06) holds UH and WAC 3-meter records. She was a CSCAA Academic All-American (2004) and went on to assist the U.S. national diving team.
Sebastian (1978-81) was the first blue-chip mainland recruit for Dave Shoji and the Rainbow Wahine volleyball program. She was a starting middle blocker for the 1979 AIAW national championship team and was named to the all-tournament team. She was a three-time AIAW All-American (1978-80) and the 1980 Broderick Award winner as the nation's top collegiate volleyball player. A U.S. national team member, she was named the 1981 Hawai'i state female athlete of the year. Sebastian was a graduate assistant for the UH teams that won consecutive NCAA titles in 1982 & '83 and a 1993 Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame inductee.
Thomas and Vera Cruz (1981-85) were the most dominant women's tennis doubles team at UH and in the state in the 1980s. The four-year co-captains played No. 1 doubles their entire careers with a 138-14 record, 12 tournament wins and a 50-match winning streak. They won the 1982 Sugar Bowl as a two-person team against six-member teams, taking the doubles title. Vera Cruz also won the singles title while Thomas reached the singles semifinals. They rank Nos. 1 & 2 in UH career singles victories (Thomas 125-15, Vera Cruz 105-20). Thomas won the 1984 Jack Bonham Award given to UH's top senior student-athlete. They were unbeaten in local women's tournaments from 1978-87.
The Noga brothers – Niko (1980-83) and Al (1984-87) wreaked havoc on UH's opponents during an eight-year period in the 1980s. Niko was a four-time all-WAC, two-time A.P. honorable mention All-American, WAC Newcomer of 1980 and named to Blue Chip All-American all-freshman and all-sophomore teams. He set tackles-for loss career and single-season UH records and played in the East-West Shrine Game. Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, he played eight NFL seasons. Al, the "Samoan Sackman," was UH's first A.P. first-team All-American in 1986 and Heisman Tropy candidate. He was a three-time first-team all-WAC defensive lineman and Outland Trophy finalist, and played in the Hula and Senior bowls. Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, he played seven NFL seasons and was named on Sports Illustrated's "50 Greatest Hawai'i Sports Figures."

(courtesy: Hawaii Athletics)