I’m just a haumana, but I do not think so. Here’s why I think this.
This is a guess, but I suspect the kikino “hoʻokūkū” meaning game or match is derived from the hamani “hoʻokūkū” meaning “compare” on the same page. Note also the examples given with -kūkū on
Whereas pāʻani seems to not so much a particular game or match as the game or sport in general:
For me anyway, the meaning of your sentence in English is not clear. The target sentence here makes sense: as a general rule, volleyball is difficult to play. One must practice for many hours to be able to play it well (which I discovered is true a few years ago when I decided to actually try to be halfway decent at it).
However I am not sure what you are trying to say. In my pea brain at least, the present tense with an activity is a general statement about the subject. Are you making a statement (in English) about a specific game, and what are you saying about it?
It seems like there could be two options. (1) Identifying this particular game, not the sport in general: Pāʻakikī kēia pāʻani pōpaʻipaʻi. (2) Shifting to a kikino with the more specific meaning of a particular match or competition (see previous analysis) as Kamakea1 has done: Paʻakikī ka hoʻokūkū pōpaʻipaʻi.
I suppose a third option might be to shift to the past tense. I would be interested to hear from a more expert speaker how to phrase this: my naive attempt (*Ua paʻakikī ka pāʻani pōpaʻipaʻi”) would seem to mean something like “the game of volleyball has become difficult” according to https://hawaiian-grammar.org/current/#h.nrzfyqrj6gdt
Thanks for the extra mile. My own sentence was meant to convey “the game of volleyball is difficult”. This is closest to your past tense rendering. I still don’t know how else to say it in the present tense, but reckon I must have a mental block. E inu ana au i ka pia! Goodness knows if that’s correct, lol.