LIHUE — Redemption.
The Waimea Menehune avenged an earlier loss Tuesday night at Kauai High School Gym, dropping the Red Raiders of Kauai High in four sets, 25-15, 25-27, 25-23, 25-12, in the first playoff game in the season’s first half.
Suffering a three-set loss to the Red Raiders the week before, Menehune coach Chad Delanoza said his team learned from the Friday’s defeat to right the ship.
“We just took care of the ball a little better.” Delanoza said. “We didn’t do anything special other than take care of the ball.”
In the opening set of the game, the Menehune came out spiking, looking like a team with a lot to prove.
They never relinquished a 5-4 advantage they took early in the set, securing the set 25-15 with the help of six kills each from Kawena Warren and Mariyah Oliver, and four from Lei Alejandro.
But the Red Raiders came back.
Scoring on four aces from Amanda Cadavona, Tahra Kaui and Adrienne Graycochea in the first 11 possessions of the second set, the Red Raiders grabbed an early 9-2 advantage and led most of the way. But Waimea came storming back.
Down 18-11, the Menehune scored six straight on two kills from Alejandro and four errors from the Red Raiders, prompting a Kauai timeout.
That’s when things got exciting.
Perhaps the loudest environment all season, the two teams traded points before a raucous crowd and tied it up at 23-23, 24-24 and 25-25.
Graycochea recorded a kill to put the Red Raiders up 26-25 and an ensuing Menehune hitting error sealed the Red Raiders victory.
Both teams came out determined in the third set.
The Red Raiders jumped to an early three-point advantage. But that lead didn’t last.
The Menehune, behind two kills from Oliver and one from Warren, tied thing ups at 8 a piece.
From there, the score was tied 10 times and the lead changed seven times.
At 23-23, the Menehune got back-to-back kills from Talia Young and Alejandro to give them a set three win.
In the game’s fourth and final set, the Red Raiders kept pace early but faltered.
With a 14-10 advantage, the Menehune scored six straight for a 20-10 lead.
Waimea secured set four and the game when Warren slammed down a kill, pushing the score at 25-12.
Red Raiders coach Merrill Carvalho said Waimea came out with better intensity in Tuesday’s match but was unhappy with his girls’ effort in the final set.
“We just fell apart and there was no drive from the girls.” he said. “It’s a little frustrating to see them fold like that.”
Carvalho is optimistic about his team and said there is still a second-half yet to be played.
Delanoza was proud of the girls’ effort in Tuesday’s match but knows his team isn’t finished as they face the Kapaa Warriors on Friday.
“We won’t stop. We’ll continue to go back and watch some film,” said Delanoza. “Kapaa is just a big team and we just have to find our chances and opportunities.”
Leading the Menehune attack Tuesday was Warren and Alejandro with 18 kills a piece. Oliver chipped in 16.
Graycochea was the leading attacker for the Red Raiders with 10 kills, followed by Jondee Rivera and Harley Kaeo with six kills each.
The Red Raiders drop to 4-3 on the season, while the Menehune go to 5-2.
Waimea will now play the 4-2 Kapaa Warriors Friday at Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea at 6:30 p.m. to decide the season’s first-half winner.
• Tyson Agbayani, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.