KIF Waimea’s to lose after 5-set win over Kaua‘i

WAIMEA — In five sets of lead changes, momentum swings, crowd pleasers, heartbreakers and circus shots, it was fitting that Friday night’s KIF volleyball matchup between Waimea and Kaua‘i came down to extra points.

And after nearly two and a half hours of volleyball, the match — and most likely the KIF title — came down to an ace.

Following the momentum of a highlight-reel Mark Kanahele kill to give the Menehune a 16-15 lead, the Waimea junior aced the Red Raiders on the ensuing serve to give Waimea a 25-21, 25-27, 20-25, 25-17, 17-15 win over Kaua‘i at Waimea High School.

The win improved the Menehune record in the second round to 4-0 and dropped the Red Raiders to 2-2. The Menehune only need to win one of their two games next week against Kapa‘a and Island School to clinch the KIF championship.

“It was just big,” Waimea head coach Enoka Karratti said. “Kaua‘i High showed up and put it on us to perform. It was just big all around.”

After failing to clinch the match in the fourth set, the Red Raiders amassed a 7-3 lead in the final set. The Menehune countered and tied the score at 8-all. From there, the Menehune took a 13-10 lead, but let the Red Raiders gain ground with three kills from senior Donovan Harrison. The teams traded leads again and saw the score tied at 13-all, 14-all and 15-all.

Tied at 15, the Red Raiders looked to have the point when a shot careened into the Menehune fans. But senior Keoni Ana barreled into the crowd and put an arm on the ball, sending it back into the Menehune court. With just barely enough time to react, Kanahele tipped the ball over the net where it gently fell into the open court on the Red Raider side.

“Keoni hustled for that ball and it wasn’t easy,” Kanahele said. “I was just able to get the ball over.”

With the crowd riding the momentum swing, Kanahele toed the service line and delivered an ace to clinch the match, causing the crowd to rush the court.

“It was game point and all of the pressure was on me,” Kanahele said. “All I had to do was get the ball in. And I did.”

The unreturnable serve all but clinched the KIF championship for the Menehune, leaving the Red Raiders devastated on the sidelines. After the match, an emotional Merrill Carvalho said frustration was an overwhelming emotion for the team.

“We were very close,” the Red Raider head coach said. “We were so close to finishing this out. They just made a few more plays than we did tonight.”

Kaua’i had the momentum during the middle sets, especially in the third.

 The Red Raiders never trailed in the set and were all over the court defensively. The set was highlighted when Blaise Ferguson dug a ball out with his head and Dominic Armstrong finished the point off with a kill.

But ultimately, as they have all season, the Menehune regrouped. Behind the expert setting of Jonathan Tangalin, Waimea walked through the fourth set with the help of three Koa Luce-Yamamoto kills and when faced with an early deficit in the fifth set, the Menehune didn’t bat an eye.

“All we had to do was get the momentum back,” Kanahele said. “I told my boys to hang in there and we’ll take it.”

In the JV match prior to the varsity game the Red Raiders beat the Menehune in three sets, 25-23, 25-18, 25-25.

Over at Island School, the Kapa‘a Warriors cruised to a three-set varsity win over the Voyagers, 25-17, 25-19, 25-11. 

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