PUHI — The Menehune girls have clinched their second straight league title and berth at states.
Waimea High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Island School in straight sets Tuesday night at the Wilcox Gymnasium in Puhi to win this year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship — 25-12, 25-7, 25-16.
“It’s been a long road, a long journey. There was a lot of hustle, a lot of fight, grit and tears, but a lot of staying together as a team,” said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza. “They did what they set out to do. They came here, played almost a clean match. There were a few errors, but our whole intention was to play a clean match and keep putting the pressure on Island School.”
He added: “Winning in straight sets in this league is getting tougher by the year. It’s not dominated anymore by any one school. It can be anybody’s night. It’s about who plays the cleanest volleyball at that time, and we’re fortunate tonight to play as clean as we did.”
Ahead 22-16 in the third set, Waimea (10-1 KIF, 5-0 2nd round) scored the next three points to clinch the league title. Menehune senior outside hitter Gabrielle Peleras scored two of those final points with a kill and a block.
Peleras finished Tuesday’s match with a game-high 16 kills along with two blocks and an ace.
“We were able to connect. We didn’t play as individuals out there. We played as a team with passion,” Peleras said. “We always kept our heads high.”
Peleras said of being a repeat KIF-winner and again going to states: “It’s a privilege. It’s so awesome to go from not winning in a while to being on a team that actually clicks be able to win two KIF championships.”
Island School (1-10 KIF, 0-5 2nd round) faced a 20-8 deficit in the third set. The Voyagers cut into Waimea’s lead with a 8-2 run.
“I think we did really good on serving. I think if we just kept up the energy, we probably would have done a lot better,” said Voyagers senior outside hitter Izzy Ancharski. “But I think we’re all happy with how we played even though it didn’t go as we expected.”
Tuesday was Island School’s senior night. Ancharski is Island School’s only senior. She had one kill in the match.
Ancharski, who played for four years including the last two in varsity, described her senior night as “happy-sad.”
“I’m just really happy that my team is so supportive,” she said. “And then, I’m just really sad that it’s my last year and it’s senior night. But I’m just happy that this is how it would end.”
Menehune sophomore middle blocker Raelee Samio had eight kills and two blocks. Senior outside hitter Keana Silva had five kills and two aces.
Voyagers junior outside hitter Ashley Mecham led the team with 13 kills. Junior middle blocker June Hsu had three kills.
Waimea also won the junior varsity match against Island School, 3-0 — 25-16, 25-8, 25-13.
Waimea will host Kapaa, and Island School will play at Kauai High School on Friday to conclude the 2018 season. The JV matches will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
“We’re not doing anything different. We’re still going to go at it as if it’s match one, round one,” Delanoza said. “It’s a matter of us cleaning all the stuff that’s been giving us problems — the little mistakes, not talking when we need to, not playing above the net when we need to at times. We give away some runs that we shouldn’t, but that’s all part of what we need to concentrate on the rest of the week and headed into the state tournament.”
The 2018 New City Nissan Girls Volleyball Championships-Division II state tournament will begin Oct. 24 on Oahu. Seedings and brackets are to be determined.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.