HILO – In a contest eerily reminiscent of Wednesday’s feature match-up with Waiakea, the KIF champion Waimea Menehune boys varsity volleyball team was eliminated from state tournament play as they fell to the Campbell Sabers 10-15 and 13-15 Friday afternoon at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
Waimea again got behind early in the contest and staged a furious comeback that fell just short. The Menehune settled down to take a pair of four-point leads in the second game but were unable to hold on to the advantage and fell in straight sets.
The Garden Island reps found out the hard way that, in order to advance in the 2002 HHSAA Nissan Boys State Volleyball Tournament, you’ve got to bring your A-game for every opponent.
“We had a very good season,” Waimea head coach Bobby Kamakele commented, “but we did not play our best here at states.”
Serving and hitting errors plagued the Menehune at crucial moments in the consolation semi-final.
The OIA third place finishers took a huge 10-3 lead in the opening set, aided by 5 unforced Waimea hitting errors, before the KIF champs stormed back.
Jeremy McDown’s quick swing in the middle found the sideline to trim the difference to 10-4.
Campbell defensive specialist Royce Costa floated a service ace to halt the run but John Karratti’s outside laser smash through the double block returned serve to the Menehune.
A Saber lift violation was followed by a Casey Kaohelaulii-McDown block assist to pull Waimea within 11-6 before the squads traded points on a Menehune service error and Steven Fountain Jr.’s ace.
Hitting mistakes by both squads accounted for a 13-9 Saber advantage and outside hitter Vincent Tabaquin put away a hard angle kill to give Campbell the first game aloha ball opportunity.
A hitting error momentarily ended the threat and McDown’s rifle-quick middle smash brought Waimea to 14-10.
The Menehune were unable to fend off the subsequent Saber outside attack and Tabaquin’s service floater was shanked to close out the initial set.
Waimea jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second game, aided by a pair of sharp Karratti jump-service aces and a Norman Vea Jr. back-row rip.
Menehune hitters found a cold spell as Campbell rallied back to tie the contest at 8-8.
Kaohelaulii and Rodrigues each smashed a pair of kills to regain a 13-9 edge for the KIF champs only to find the stubborn Sabers finish off a 6-0 closing run on Kainoa Santos hard angle blast to an open sideline.
Waimea finished with 3 aces (Karratti 2, Fountain 1) but were plagued by 9 service errors in the match.
Setter Erwin Wright III distributed 15 Menehune assists and middle hitter McDown headed the offense with 6 kills. Rodrigues, Joshua Vinzant, and Kaohelaulii chipped in with 5, 4, and 4 kills respectively.
An uncharacteristic 15 Waimea hitting errors offset a total of 22 kills for the match.
The Menehune were credited with 2 solo blocks (Wright, McDown) and 4 block assists (Vinzant, Kaohelaulii, McDown 2) for the contest.
Waimea picked up 22 digs defensively (Rodrigues 6, Vinzant 4, Wright 4, Kaohelaulii 2, Vea 2, Karratti 2, and Fountain 2).
The loss dropped the KIF champs to 8-3 overall on the season while Campbell improved to 12-4 and set up an all-Saber consolation final Saturday against Maui High. Former Menehune standout Ricky Riopta is the starting setter on the Valley Isle squad.
Look for full tourney scores in the Scoreboard on the right.