LIHUE – The Waimea girls varsity squad claimed their 28th Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation volleyball title in 32 seasons with a resounding 15-11, 15-4 second round play-off victory over the Kaua’i Red Raiders Thursday night at the Kaua’i High gymnasium.
To help convey a sense of home in this critical contest, the west-side cheerleaders lavishly decorated their rooting sections prior to the first whistle and Menehune fans noisily made their presence felt throughout the exciting match.
The Raiders got on the scoreboard first with a 2-0 burst on a Menehune hitting error and Tina Moger’s rip off the block.
With standout Virginia Aguilar at the service line, Waimea responded with a 6-0 run highlighted by a Jannah Tafua rejection and Britnee Boeder’s strong swings from the left side.
A Courtney Doliente dump of a tight pass cut the lead to three but Aguilars solo stuff in the middle put the visitors up 7-3.
Kaua’i answered with a 5-0 run to reclaim the lead on a pair of Moger smashes and kills by Kyrie Simeona, Farren Higley and Alaina Villatora.
The Menehune countered with a Robyn Arrington ace, Boeder kill and a Raider hitting error to retake the lead for good at 10-8. Tafua’s second solo block netted another score and an Arrington drive through the double block bumped the advantage to four. A Raider passing error pushed the board to 13-8 but the third Waimea serving error of the opener ended the run.
A pair of Menehune hitting miscues and a Kelly Masuda service ace brought the home squad within 13-11 before an Ashlee Vea-Aguilar dink connection found open court.
The 4th Kaua’i hitting error of the game put Waimea in the aloha ball opportunity and a Cailee Koga service ace was shanked to end the first set.
The Menehune took leads of 4-0 and 10-1 in the second with a strong service game and tough back row defense.
A three-point Raider run to trim the lead to 10-4 was showcased by the exceptional back row defense of junior Jodi Miyashiro, who seemingly appeared from nowhere to dig certain kills with sprawling saves.
Koga answered with a pair of service aces down the left side for a 12-4 Waimea edge and a lift call and hitting error got the excited fans on their feet for match point.
Amidst the crescendo of cheers, Aguilar and Boeder rejected a left side slam attempt to reclaim Garden Island girls prep volleyball prominence for the west-side.
For the five Menehune seniors who endured the two-year championship resurgence of the Red Raider girls program, the victory was especially sweet.
“This victory is really for our community and for the fans. We’ve waited awhile for this and worked hard to get here,” senior middle Aguilar said amidst a mountain of congratulatory leis, “We remembered what it was like as freshmen.”
“I’m too tired right now to have a thought,” head coach Dr. Paul Arrington sighed at the match’s conclusion, “but the kids played an outstanding game. Kaua’i was phenomenal in the opening set but we hung in there. Hats off to both the Raiders and Kapa’a for a great season of competition.”
The victors were paced by the sparkling setting of Vea (12 assists, 1 kill, 4 digs) and the all around games of Boeder (match-high 7 kills, 2 block assists, 9 digs) and Aguilar (2 kills, 1 solo block, 2 block assists, 3 digs). Tafua excelled at the net with a kill, 2 solo blocks and a block assist while U’i Kanahele collected 5 digs. Koga sparkled with 3 service aces and Arrington contributed an ace, 2 kills and a pair of digs. Michelle Takashima and Jenny Morita passed in the back court for 4 and 2 digs respectively. Fa’a Taala picked up a block assist and 2 digs and Pua’ala Aipoalani ended the contest in the front row to the delight of the Waimea contingent.
Kaua’i was led by the hustling play of setter Courtney Doliente (14 assists, 1 kill, 1 block assist, 8 digs) and outside swings of Simeona (4 kills, 7 digs) and Moger (4 kills, 2 digs). Higley put away 3 kills, a pair of block assists and 3 digs and teammate Miyashiro vacuumed up 7 dig saves. Alaina Villatora and Kehau Silva rounded out the Raider offense with two kills apiece while Holly Iloreta (6 digs) and Kellie Masuda (service ace, 2 digs) stepped up the defensive effort.
Waimea improved to 8-1 for the season and gave Arrington his 7th league crown in 9 years at the helm. The win claimed the lone league berth to the HHSAA girls state championships in Hilo from November 20-23. The loss dropped Kaua’i to 4-5 overall (3-2 in second round play) but offered a glimmer of the talent to return next season.