LIHU‘E — The Waimea Menehune defense bent, but the Kaua‘i Red Raiders couldn’t break it.
After winning the first two sets, the Menehune survived an inspired comeback attempt by the Raiders to finish the match with a intense five-set victory, 25-23, 25-18, 16-25, 21-25, 15-8, Friday night at Kaua‘i High School.
The Menehune rolled through the first two sets, but the Raiders regrouped and dominated the next two to set up a fifth set climax.
The Red Raiders had all the momentum heading into that fifth set, but Kaua‘i head coach Merril Carvalho said his team played on its heals with the game on the line.
“We played too timid at the end,” Carvalho said. “We got to that point and the girls just didn’t want to make errors. But when you play like you don’t want to make errors, you make errors.”
The tentativeness that the Red Raiders showed in the fifth set is what Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza said hampered his team in the third and fourth sets. Delanoza said his team got comfortable with the two set lead and let the play get sloppy.
“We had a lot of mental lapses that got us into trouble,” Delanoza said.
Kaua‘i was quick to jump on the Menehune lapse. In both set wins, the Red Raiders started with the lead and held it for the majority of each set. The Raiders thwarted several comeback rallies from the Menehune in order to force the deciding set.
“We went back to the basics in those two sets,” Carvalho said. “We started communicating and playing with discipline. Those girls never quit.”
After blowing the two set lead and all of a sudden facing a win or lose final set, Delanoza said his Waimea girls took a page from the Raiders and focused on the fundamentals.
“We passed a lot better and our team defense improved,” Delanoza said. “We really cut down on our unforced errors.”
In the JV game, the Red Raiders swept the Menehune 25-10, 25-19, 25-20.
In action in Kapa‘a, the Warriors downed Island School 25-18, 25-17, 25-10 with the JV Warriors winning in three sets as well.