Menehune down Warriors for first-half title

WAIMEA — The Waimea Menehune disposed of the Kapaa Warriors in quick fashion Friday night, sweeping their opponent in straight sets, 25-16, 25-11, 25-19 at Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea.

In a game that lasted just 65 minutes, the Menehune exerted their dominance and played perhaps their best game of the season to secure the KIF regular season’s first-half title over the Warriors.

“A lot of it is just self-driven … that’s where I think we’ve had our struggles throughout this season.” said Chad Delanoza. Menehune’s coach, on his players being ready for the showdown. “It’s about the team, is about you, it’s about staying focused, playing for each other. Tonight was like a light switch.”

A light switch that stayed on.

Leading 6-5 in the opening set of the game, the Menehune strung together eight straight points behind four aces from Talia Young to push their advantage to 14-6.

Receiving three kills each from Mariyah Oliver and Lei Alejandro and two a piece from Kawena Warren and Young, the Menehune kept the pressure on Kapaa throughout en route to a 25-16 set one victory.

Aside from an opening kill from Kapaa’s Madisson Hinkel to start set two, the second game was dominated by the Menehune from the get-go.

Behind four kills from Oliver, two kills and an ace from Warren and a kill from Alejandro, the Menehune stormed out to a 8-5 advantage.

Kapaa didn’t get any closer to catching the Menehune from that point as Waimea went streaking once more, this time for six straight scores.

Oliver added three more kills to push her set two kill total to seven as the Menehune grabbed a 2-0 game lead with their 25-11 set two win.

But the Warriors didn’t fold.

Scoring the third set’s first four points was Kapaa on an opening kill from Brianee Cabacungan, two hitting errors from Waimea and an ace from Alexis Stogner.

The Menehune answered and tallied up four straight to tie it up at 4.

The next six points were split between both teams before the Menehune finally put it out of reach.

In what was the storyline all night for Waimea, the Menehune ripped off eight straight points to grab a 15-7 advantage.

Kapaa closed the gap a few times and got as close as three points at 18-15, but the Menehune finished off the Warriors 25-19 on an Oliver kill.

Evan Costa, head coach of the Kapaa Warriors, said he thought his team didn’t follow their assignments Friday but gave credit to the Menehune.

“They brought it. They continued the momentum from the game with Kauai High.” he said. “They were flowing pretty well tonight … they were ready.”

Costa believes that getting his girls to stick to their assignments will get them back into rhythm for the second-half.

Kapaa falls to 4-3 on the season and saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.

Delanoza was proud of his Menehune and praised Oliver’s work ethic as the reason for her success and her 18 kills on the match.

“Mariyah is a work horse.” said Delanoza. “She works hard at it at practice, it just shows at the match. There is no secret to what she does, she is just a hard worker in general and I’m just happy to have her.”

Waimea is now 6-2 on the season and are riding a two-game winning streak.

Oliver was the leading attacker for both teams with 18 kills and also recorded one block.

Alejandro had eight kills, while teammate Warren chipped in with four for the Menehune.

Leading the way for Kapaa was Hinkel with seven total kills followed by teammate Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai with five and Eryka Keoho with four.

Waimea was also strong with their serving, recording nine aces, four of which from Young and three from Warren.

 KIF volleyball action continues Tuesday with the Kapaa Warriors traveling back to Waimea to take on the Menehune and the Kauai High Red Raiders hosting the Island School Voyagers. Tuesday’s matches begin with JV at 5 p.m., with the varsity to follow no earlier than 6:30 p.m.

• Tyson Agbayani, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or tagbayani@thegardenisland.com.

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