Playing for the future

PUHI — The island School Voyagers didn’t win on Tuesday against the Kaua‘i Red Raiders. Nor have they won this season. It’s been a tough stretch for Voyager head coach Kaipo Kealalio’s squad this season, and Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Red Raiders could have been another disappointing loss in a season full of them.

But it wasn’t.

While the Voyagers struggled to keep up with the high-octane Raiders, the Island School squad continued to work on improvement, just as they have all season.

“We don’t have a lot of experience but we’re working on fixing our problems and getting into a rhythm,” Kealalio said. “Everyone wants to win. Losing doesn’t sit well with us. We’re working hard.”

The Voyagers squad is chalk full of new faces. The team roster lists only three seniors. Ryan Perez, a senior, is the only returning varsity member.

The losses have mounted this season, Kealalio said, but it doesn’t mean the Voyagers aren’t playing for something. While the roster is thin on four-year veterans, it does contain nine juniors. Kealalio said with each game those juniors learn to play better with each other. The Voyagers aren’t just building for next season, Kealalio said, they’re establishing a tradition.

“Our school’s athletic department is still in its early years,” he said. “These boys are working to set the standard for later years.”

The future may be the hope for the Voyagers, but that doesn’t mean they take these present losses any easier. Kealalio said he was disappointed in the way his team played on Tuesday night. The Voyagers were coming off of their best match of the season — a four-set loss to Kapa‘a last week — but the team made too many unforced errors against Kaua‘i, he said.

The Voyagers squandered several chances in the first set to capitalize on Red Raider mistakes. The Voyagers netted 17 points off Kaua‘i in that set, with many of Island School’s points coming off of Kaua‘i errors. But what the Voyagers need to work on, Kealalio said, is coming through when the other team is making the mistakes.

“We need to be aggressive,” he said. “We need to learn how to win.”

Because of a sheer lack of numbers, Kealalio said the Voyagers will never be the most athletic team. He said in order for Island School to have success in the present — and the future — the team has to play smart, tactical volleyball. And if they do that, he said, today’s losses may turn into tomorrow’s wins.  

In Waimea, the Menehune  won a four-game match against Kapa‘a, 25-17, 25-12, 26-28, 25-18. The Warrior JV team beat the Menehune in three sets, 25-15, 13-25, 25-14.

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