KAPA‘A — Throughout the KIF boys volleyball season, the Kaua‘i Red Raiders have periodically dug themselves into holes they couldn’t climb out of. Down 9-2 in the second set Tuesday night, the Raiders once again found themselves in that situation. The difference this time, though, was they didn’t just climb out of it. They jumped.
A 15-5 Raider run in the second set blew away any chance of a Kapa‘a Warrior upset, as the Raiders went on to sweep the match, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21 Tuesday evening at Kapa‘a High School.
Earlier in the evening, the Kaua‘i Junior Varsity squad took its series 2-1 over the Warrior JV, 25-19, 25-18, 15-25.
Kaua‘i head coach Merrill Carvalho said his team is one that causes a lot of its own errors — partially the reason for the second set hole. But instead of those errors compounding and causing a lost game, Carvalho said something changed Tuesday night.
“When we fell behind, for some reason a switch clicked,” he said. “The boys barred down and started passing and playing clean.”
The Red Raiders obtained the win without the service of Joseph Machado. Carvalho said Machado was out of town for the game, but in his absence the Red Raiders saw the emergence of two key players.
Blaise Ferguson played all over the court for Kaua‘i and contributed on the attack with six kills.
“Blaise had an unbelievable game tonight,” Carvalho said. “He was passing, hitting and playing great defense.”
Up front, senior Mikal Moranz played a key role in the Red Raider victory. At 6-foot-3, the outside hitter was nearly unblockable for the Warrior defense.
“Mikal stepped up big time,” Carvalho said.
After taking the second set, the Red Raiders fell behind 3-0 in the third, thanks to two kills from Kapa‘a’s Jeremiah Obrero.
The Red Raiders climbed back and the two teams kept it close through the middle of the set, but that’s when the Red Raiders pulled out their big gun, Donovan Harrison.
The reigning KIF player of the year had seven kills in the set to put the game away.
“Once he gets going in a rhythm, he’s hard to stop,” Carvalho said. “We call it feeding the beast. Once you feed the beast, everything is going to work out.”
While the Red Raiders had the ability to overcome early deficits, the Warriors continued to struggle to hold onto a lead. Head coach Matt Gonsalves said that’s been a recurring point for the team all season. “We’ll play well for stretches during games but not the entire match,” Gonsalves said. “The potential is there, but the game goes up to 25, not just 12.”
Gonsalves said it’s been a tough year, because although he’s seen improvement in his team, at the same time all the other teams have gotten stronger.
“Our boys are certainly better today than they were at the start of the season,” he said. “We’re still making a lot of mistakes.”