Men’s Volleyball Coach Ali’i Keohohou Promoted to Associate Head Coach

Originally hailing from Thousand Oaks, California, Keohohou said he grew up in the gym.

Loyola men’s volleyball coach John Hawks announced Aug. 24 that assistant coach Ali’i Keohohou would be promoted to the role of associate head coach in his second season with the team. For Keohohou, who will see an increase in his responsibilities with the team, this is the latest development in his well-traveled career.

Originally hailing from Thousand Oaks, California, Keohohou said he grew up in the gym where his parents played in multiple adult leagues and his older sisters competed in high school sports. While Keohouou was familiar with volleyball, his athletic pursuits were in baseball and basketball.

In his senior year of high school, Keohohou decided to drop basketball and baseball in favor of volleyball before attending Brigham Young University–Hawaii for a year. While he didn’t play volleyball at BYU–Hawaii, he ended up transferring to California State University, Northridge where he represented the university on the court for four years and pursued a major in sports management.

Keohohou started coaching post-graduation at the high school and club level, but he wasn’t introduced to the college scene until 2016 when California Lutheran University’s Jeff Campell gave him a call.

Eventually, Keohohou realized he was becoming overwhelmed “coaching too many teams at one time” and decided to take a temporary step back and moved to Maui, Hawaii to identify where he was in his career.

“Moving to Maui was supposed to be a break from that, to reevaluate, ‘Do I actually want to coach or do something different?” Keohohou said. “I knew I always wanted to be around either the high school age or college age and help with anything I could, so I was actually figuring out if I wanted to be a high school counselor or a sports psychologist.”

Eventually, after working with the volleyball program at a school in Maui for several months, Keohohou discovered another opportunity — a chance to pursue a master’s degree in education at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Simultaneously working towards his degree, he joined Durham’s volleyball team in a dual position as a player and coach.

While finishing his dissertation, Keohohou applied for several NCAA coaching jobs, including a head coach position at The University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. After arriving back in Thousand Oaks for Memorial Day weekend in 2019, he accepted the job and was on campus by the following Monday — barely a week after his return from overseas. 

During a four year span at Mount Olive, Keohohou earned Conference Carolina’s Coach of the Year honors in April 2021 while leading the team to a conference finals appearance in the same year. The team made another finals appearance a year later in 2022.

In his head coach duties, Keohohou was responsible for coordinating practices and games, recruiting potential students and maintaining other duties without any support staff. At various points, he also helped ensure his student-athletes were on track with their academic progress and managed the team’s budgeting and social media.

Then, in 2022, Kehohou got in touch with Hawks, who was the head coach of UCLA at the time.

“When he was at UCLA and I was at Mount Olive that last year, we were in talks about UCLA coming out to me to be our home opener,” Keohohou said. “So when I saw the posting that he got the head coaching job here at Loyola, I shot him a text and was like, ‘Congrats, but, like, I need to get UCLA on my schedule, so can we finalize this before you leave?’”

The two planned and finalized the game, but during some back-and-forth Hawks asked a surprised Keohohou if he’d be interested in an assistant coaching role at Loyola. After what Keohohou described was an “organic conversation,” he was officially offered the position about a week later.

Only weeks after Hawks had been announced, Keohohou joined the team in mid-June 2022 alongside former Loyola assistant coach Scott Kevorken. To find their footing, roles weren’t set until closer to the season, when Kehohou’s primary responsibilities were laid with the offense and serve receives.

Hawks spoke to how great Keohohou’s efforts were in assisting with the team’s management, recruiting and other responsibilities.

“I describe him a lot as my right hand,” Hawks said. “Ali’i jumped right in and, being the head coach at Mount Olive, he had to do everything himself there, so he was really attuned with what had to happen, how fast it had to happen, who he had to go to, and he just made stuff happen. It was awesome.” 

For the newly assembled coaching staff, the 2023 season was a success. The team, ranked No. 10 nationally, went 21-6 during the regular season before falling in the quarterfinals of the MIVA Tournament to McKendree University. 

While Keohohou said there were some discussions in February about his promotion to associate head coach, he was surprised and grateful for the promotion when it happened. Everything remains pretty much the same as before, he said, just with a few new administrative tasks.

Before the new season begins, Hawks said Keohohou will oversee more defensive-minded tasks as well as an increased focus on scheduling. While recruitment duties will chiefly be handled by new assistant coach Lindsay Brown, Keohohou will still play a large role in that process.

Hawks expressed how vital Keohohou was to the team and to Loyola itself.

“Just being this tremendously gifted communicator is something that not a lot of people have,” Hawks said. “It’s very easy for him to connect with our players, with parents, with anybody that comes in contact with our program. He’s a tremendous representative of Loyola. He is a tremendous example of how we act and who we are. I can’t say enough great things about Ali’i.”

Featured image courtesy of Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics

Alexander Sciarra

Alexander Sciarra