WAIMEA – The Kaua’i boys and girls varsity squads staved off second round elimination with critical Saturday night victories over previously unbeaten Waimea at the crowded Clem Gomes Gymnasium.
The twin victories, in fact, pulled Kaua’i (3-4 overall, 2-1 second round) into a second-round tie with the Menehune (6-1 overall, 2-1 second round).
Kauai 8-15, 15-9, 15-6
After a long week of homecoming activities, the easy thought may be that the Menehune may simply have worn themselves out after three grueling sets. Credit, however, must also be due the no-quit attitude of the team with their backs against the wall.
The outside hitting of senior Britnee Boeder lifted Waimea to an 11-5 advantage in game one and the home squad closed it out on a Ui Kanahele service ace and Raider hitting error.
Jodi Miyashiro’s well placed serves helped the visitors break a 7-7 deadlock and the suddenly hot swings of middle Farren Higley and opposite Kyrie Simeona finished off an 8-2 run to even the match.
The deciding game was tied at 5-5 when Raider Kellie Masuda stepped to the line. Waimea setting and hitting errors bumped the lead to four before the home squad was able to counter with a score.
With senior setter Courtney Doliente controlling serve and locking in on the hot hitter, Kaua’i’s front row bangers took over the contest. A Tina Moger outside connection and a pair of Simeona slams put the Raiders up 12-6. Middle hitter Alaina Villatoras dump kill for a point followed a Menehune time out but a Raider hitting error ended the scoring chance.
A Moger kill-off-the-block returned serve to Kauai and the left-handed Simeona again pounded a Doliente backset for a winner. Mogers sharp aloha ball serve down the line proved to be the final difference.
“They’re just working hard, they’ve got the potential to play,” a drained Raider head coach Richard Roberts said. “It shows how close the matches have been. It was nice to see them step up tonight with more consistent serving- that helped a lot. The block picked up big! There are still matches to go right? Everyone is going to be working hard.”
Simeona led all hitters with 12 kills while Doliente racked up 27 assists on the night. Kelly Masuda (9 digs), Moger (2 service aces, 4 kills, 7 digs), Higley (6 kills, 2 solo blocks, block assist), Holly Iloreta (6 digs), Villatora (3 kills, 2 block assists), and Miyashiro (4 digs) stood out for the victors. In her return to action, freshman middle Kehau Silva claimed a pair of kills.
Football homecoming queen Boeder led the Menehunes with 9 kills (to go with 2 aces and 8 digs) and Vea dished out 15 assists and dug up 10 kill tries. Virginia Aguilar rapped out 4 kills while teammates Robyn Arrington and Michelle Takashima picked up 8 digs apiece.
Kauai 15-8, 13-11
The Raider boys successfully fended off the Menehune title thrust with aggressive play at the net and in the back row.
Kaua’i jumped out to an early 7-2 lead before Steven Fountain’s aggressive serve and a solid Casey Kaohelaulii-Talon Abat double block helped the home squad knot things up at 8-8.
Unforced Menehune hitting and passing errors combined with the fiery net play of Raider setter Aukai Dennis to boost the visitors to a closing 7-0 run. A Kamu Kawaihalau roll shot to an open back corner sealed the game one victory.
Waimea enjoyed early leads of 5-1 and 8-4 in the second set but were unable to force a deciding game. The match was knotted at 11-11 with seven seconds on the clock before Futi Tavana’s kill of a Menehune overpass put Kaua’i up by one. Waimea called time to slow things up but a subsequent Dennis serve down the line was shanked to the tumultuous roar of Raider players and fans.
“It’s a great win. I think we are finally heading uphill,” a confident Kauai head coach Shawn Doo stated.”Our kids played hard! It was a great effort on both sides. We may simply have wanted it more.”
Dennis doled out 18 assists (and had 3 kills and 5 digs) to lead the Raider effort while Kelly Foster and Kawaihalau each recorded 5 kills. Tavana and Jonathan Arakaki also excelled up front with 4 kills apiece.
Kaohelaulii and Desmond Rodrigues shared game-high honors with 6 kills each for Waimea while Josh Vinzant put away 5 attempts. Erwin Wright distributed 17 assists and was also credited with a team-high 5 digs.
The losses also revived flagging Warrior hopes as Kapa’a (1-5, 0-2), with two games left on their schedule, must knock off both Waimea and Kaua’i next week to force a three-way second round playoff in both boys and girls action.
The Menehune must now travel to the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa on Wednesday to battle the Warriors (1-5, 0-2), with the opening boys junior varsity contest slated to begin at 3 p.m.