Vee Hiapo, one of the most successful boys volleyball coaches in Arizona history, has resigned as the coach of Highland, athletic director Rod Huston said in an email.
Hiapo led the Hawks to three state championships and three runner-up finishes in her tenure. Highland won its first title in 2004 over Mountain Pointe, repeated in 2005 against Oro Valley Canyon del Oro and is the current defending champion after knocking off Gilbert 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 this past spring. The team made the state finals in 2006 (losing to Brophy), 2007 (losing to Desert Vista) and 2010 (losing to Glendale Deer Valley).
Huston said Hiapo resigned to focus more on her duties as coach of the Chandler-Gilbert women’s volleyball team.
Hiapo has long been seen as one of the top coaches in the East Valley. She built up the Hawks’ program quickly, and Hiapo’s corresponding club volleyball program allowed for invaluable year-round training for her players.
Highland, Mountain Pointe and Brophy were the three most powerful programs in the sport’s infancy in Arizona, and while the landscape is getting more competitive, the Hawks have remained on the short list of yearly contenders.
Huston is currently in search of a replacement for Hiapo, and the new coach will certainly have big shoes to fill. Highland was senior-dominated last year but always has talent in the pipeline.
Much of that, though, was due to Hiapo’s expertise. With the program’s strong credentials, the opening figures to get some intriguing candidates. It’s an important hire because Gilbert High is right down the road and has turned itself into a boys volleyball power as well. Highland has established itself as an elite boys volleyball program, but it remains to be seen if it can stay that way without Hiapo leading the charge.