Scott Frost’s hiring of Tony Tuioti as defensive line coach at Nebraska has indirectly made an impact with the Midland University volleyball team.
Tuioti’s daughter, Teisa, has transferred from the University of Hawaii Hilo to Midland. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter started every match last season as a freshman for the Vulcans, who finished 21-7.
Tony Tuioti was an assistant coach at California before accepting Frost’s offer in February.
“The main reason I wanted to transfer to a school in Nebraska was because of my family moving to the state,” Tuioti said. “All of our away games (at Hilo) were in California so I got to see them during the season and they got to go to some of my games. Now that they moved farther away, I kind of wanted to go with them because I wanted to be closer to them and see my siblings grow.”
Tony and Keala Tuioti’s family includes four sons and three daughters. Sons Teivis and Teilor have enrolled at Lincoln Southeast and plan to play football for the Knights.
While Tony, who was a defensive lineman for the University of Hawaii from 1996-99, his wife, the former Keala Nihipali, was a setter for the Rainbow Warriors’ volleyball team.
“My mom is probably the most important reason why I’m playing volleyball,” Tuioti said. “She was was such a good player and I’ve always looked up to her. I’ve (admired) her mentality toward volleyball. She’s helped me a lot and taught me almost everything I know.”
Tuioti said the opportunity to play for Coach Paul Giesselmann was a factor in her choosing the Lady Warriors.
“I was looking at a few different schools, but I wanted to go to Midland because of the coach,” she said. “I felt like I could get a lot better playing for him. I thought my technique and other parts of my game would improve. That was a big selling point.”
MU volleyball has thrived under Giesselmann’s leadership, including a Final Four appearance in the NAIA Tournament last season.
“Going to a winning program was also a big factor,” Tuioti said. “I wanted to have another successful season. I thought I’d have that opportunity at Midland. I have a good feeling that this season that we’ll be pretty good.”
Tuioti, who recorded 144 kills last season and was a six-rotation player for the Vulcans, has played with her teammates during open gyms this summer.
“Everyone has been super nice and very welcoming,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the season.”
Tuioti said new people that she meets like to discuss volleyball, but also make the connection between her and Nebraska football.
“We’ll talk volleyball and somehow my dad’s name will pop up in conversation,” she said. “But I get it because this is a football state and football is very important to the people here.”
Teivis Tuioti, who will graduate in 2020, has already secured several NCAA Division I football offers. Some pundits believe the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder could be one of the top defensive linemen in the state.
“It has been so exciting to be part of a family where your brother is getting recruited,” Tuioti said. “We are all so proud of him. It is just really exciting.”
While Tuioti will keep a watchful eye on her siblings’ athletic endeavors, she is eager to help the Lady Warriors. She thinks Giesselmann will help her reach her potential.
“We’ve had conversations about me getting better in practice through a lot of reps and working on my technique,” she said. “I want to get better to help the team.”