Saige Ka'aha'aina-Torres: Setting Her Career
Saige Ka'aha'aina-Torres, a senior setter out of the University of Texas, made waves after transferring for her senior season. Prior to her time at Texas, she was a star player for the University of Utah during her Freshman through Junior seasons. However, before making her way to Utah and eventually Texas, Ka'aha'aina-Torres got her start in Hawaii.
Ka'aha'aina-Torres first started playing volleyball at the age of 11 after her mom signed her up. She was not a fan of the sport at first, more specifically the way it felt when the ball hit her forearms. She was a much bigger advocate for basketball and track, but her mother Jennifer would not let her give up on volleyball.
High School Days
Not only was Ka'aha'aina-Torres a well-known name around her high school but in the state of Hawaii. As a three-year letter winner, she helped lead the ‘Iolani High School Raiders to three consecutive Hawaii Division I State Title matches and a state championship in 2016
She recorded double-doubles in the previous two state title matches, collecting 16 kills and 11 digs in 2017, and registering 22 kills and 10 digs in 2016. In three seasons at “Iolani High, she totaled 1,157 kills in 286 sets played, for a career 4.05 kills-per-set average. Over her impressive high school career, she managed to collect 61 service aces, 120 total blocks, 696 digs and 229 assists in her career. During her senior season, she had 211 assists which ranked her as fifth-most in the state of Hawaii, while her 325 digs ranked third-most in the state.
In 2017, Ka'aha'aina-Torres was named the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Player of the Year and the second Team Under Armour All-American selection. Throughout her high school years, she played club volleyball for Ku’ikahi Volleyball Club which continued to grow her love of the game, but her skill to where she is now.
When it came time to be recruited many schools flocked her way as she was one of the top talents in the state of Hawaii. Originally Ka'aha'aina-Torres had committed to the University of Missouri to be an opposite hitter. While her stats made it clear she had those skills, she didn’t have the height which meant she would not be a starter. Instead, she was set on being a setter so she de-committed from Missouri and set her sights on the University of Utah.
Growing up through her club she played a multitude of positions so setter wasn’t completely unfamiliar to her. However, she had a lot to learn and not a lot of time to do it. Assistant coach Dan Corotan, and Utah junior Bailey Choy, who had gone to high school with Ka’aha’aina-Torres, were major supports as she figured out the new position.
While adjusting to her new position, there were inevitable mistakes. However, she worked on improving day in and day out. When Choy transferred after Ka’aha’aina-Torres freshman season she got to step up to the plate for real. As a sophomore, she guided Utah to the third round of the NCAA Tournament and set the school's single-season assists record. One year later, during her Junior season, she led the Pac-12 by averaging 10.58 assists per game.
The Journey To Champions
With grad school in mind and a year of COVID eligibility to lengthen her collegiate career, Ka'aha'aina-Torres made the choice to transfer and seek out a National Championship. In 2021, she joined the Texas Longhorns, backing up their current setter for most of the season. She played in 22 matches and 58 total sets and was second on the team with 118 assists. By the end of the season, she had finished with 17 kills and 21 total blocks.
In 2022 it was her time to shine, moving into the starting line-up for the Longhorns. With Ka’aha’aina-Torres as its setter, Texas boasted an NCAA-best .339 hitting percentage. She threw herself into the game fully on the road to the National Championship. The senior setter watched film more than anymore else, leaned on their assistant coach who was a former men’s coach, and dedicated herself to learning all aspects of the game.
Her efforts helped Texas to the National Championship where they won against Louisville in a sweep. Ka'aha'aina-Torres dished out 37 assists and added nine digs, one block, and one kill to secure the win. The win marked Texas’ fourth National Championship, and a first for Ka'aha'aina-Torres, just another accolade to add to her growing list.