WAIMEA — Ciara Wainwright didn’t care that her head was throbbing, she was tired of losing and wasn’t coming out of the game.
Despite smacking her head hard on the gym floor early in the fifth set, Wainwright stayed in the game to lead the Kapa‘a Warriors past the Waimea Menehune in a five-set thriller Tuesday night at the Waimea High School gym.
The Warriors won the first set 25-17, but the Menehune countered by winning sets two (25-19) and three (25-23) before the Warriors rebounded with a fourth set win (25-23).
The fifth set looked like it belonged to Waimea.
The undefeated Menehune used a 8-0 run early in the set to jump out to a 8-2 lead. With a six point cushion it looked like the Menehune were about to hand the Warriors their 3rd loss of the season.
Things looked even bleaker for the Warriors when Wainwright dove to her right to dig out a kill. Wainwright dove to her knees and extended out both arms, leaving nothing to cushion her head from the ground. She missed the ball and appeared dazed.
Then she got up. Shaking off her coaches who wanted to see if she was alright, Wainwright returned to the center of the court.
“We have a couple players hurt and I know they would have been telling me not to give up,” Wainwright said. “Because of them, I want to play every point. I want to prove we can come from the bottom and win.”
With Wainwright leading the way, the Warriors mounted a 13-4 run to close out the game with a 15-12 win.
“That was a pretty gutsy performance,” Kapa‘a head coach Cory Morishita said. “For her to stay in there and play as well as she did is pretty good.”
Wainwright’s effort was even more impressive when considering she suffered a concussion two weeks ago against the Menehune.
“I just wanted to go out there and do everything I could to help the team,” she said.
The win showed a big improvement for the Warriors, who in their last mach against the Menehune were swept in three games.
“They were slowly picking us apart tonight,” Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza said. “They showed signs of maturity. You have to give them credit for improving.”
The Menehune at time showed the reason why they’ve made it through two weeks of the season without a loss. In sets two and three, Waimea controlled the point and succeeded with structure. But it was the disbanding of structure in the lost sets that tore the Menehune apart.
“We got caught out of position” Delanoza said. “We can’t have girls staying in the same position.”
Improvement is what Morishita has been preaching to the Warriors each practice. Kapa‘a has been at a slight disadvantage so far this season with the team not being able to practice early on due to the renovations of the Kapa‘a High School gym. Then with the injuries to several key players, the Warriors have been treading water with a 2-2 record. Both team wins came against Island School.
Now with a win over the KIF leading Menehune, the Warriors will look to keep those improvements coming in successive weeks. But the Warriors hope their future success can be achieved without Wainwright hitting her head on the floor too many more times.
“I feel fine now,” Wainwright said after the game. “I just wanted to win.”
Over at Island School, Kaua‘i downed the Voyagers in straight sets, 25-12, 25-19, 25-13. The Red Raider JV squad also swept their match.
In the Waimea versus Kapa‘a JV game, the Waimea team swept 27-25, 25-22, 25-10.
• Tyson Alger, sports writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or by emailing talger@ thegardenisland.com. Follow him on twitter.com/tysonalger.