KAPAA — Kauai’s outside hitter, Adrienne Graycochea, finished Friday night’s match against the Kapaa Warriors with a game-high 22 kills, leading the Red Raiders to a five-set victory over the Warriors 17-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-19 15-9 at Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa.
Excited and at a lost for words at the end of the game, Graycochea credited her teammates’ encouragement throughout for her stellar performance.
“They picked me up whenever I fell down,” said Graycochea. “ I was kind of nervous at first, but my teammates were there to cheer me on, so from there we just worked together and finished the game.”
In the first set of the match though, it was the Kapaa Warriors who came out blitzing.
Falling to the Waimea Menehune in straight sets on Tuesday, the Warriors showed improved passing early as they took a quick 8-3 advantage over the Red Raiders.
Head coach of the Red Raiders, Merrill Carvalho, called a timeout to settle his girls down, a move that worked as his team narrowed the deficit to 10-8.
But the Warriors answered, tallying four straight points behind a kill from Eryka Keoho and three Red Raider errors.
The Warriors led the rest of the way and squashed a Kauai three-point streak, which put the score at 18-16, with six straight points of their own.
Kapaa secured the first set 25-17 after Kunani Tuttle recorded the final kill. Graycochea totaled one kill after set one.
In the second set, it was all Red Raiders.
Kauai jumped out to a 8-0 lead behind three kills a piece from Kawehi Harris and Graycochea, and two Warrior errors.
Kapaa did narrow the Kauai advantage to three at 12-15, but that was as close as they got.
The Red Raiders used eight straight scores to push set two out of reach at 23-12. Graycochea capped the second set with back-to-back kills.
All tied at one set a piece, the teams battled in the third set.
The Warriors grabbed an early 4-0 lead behind two consecutive aces from Brainee Cabacungan.
The Red Raiders tied things up at 5-5, and the teams traded points until it was tied at tied at 11.
Using an ace from Kaiemi Moniz and two errors from the Red Raiders, Kapaa earned a 14-11 lead.
The Warriors sat on “Aloha Ball” at 24-19, but Kauai didn’t go away quietly.
Jondee Rivera put down a kill while Teyanni Esaki recorded two aces for the Red Raiders to make it 24-22.
Kapaa recorded the final point on the following play after Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai ended a rally between the teams, igniting the Warrior crowd.
Down 2-1 and on the brink of losing, the Red Raiders came out firing in the fourth set.
Behind two aces from Amanda Cadavona, a kill from Harris and two Kapaa passing errors, the Red Raiders took a 5-0 lead.
Seeming refocused, Kauai kept their foot on the gas pedal extending their lead to 18-10.
Kauai’s Harley Kaeo put the ball just out of the reach of Kapaa’s Alexis Stogner to secure the 25-19, set-four win for the Red Raiders.
And in the fifth and final set it was all Red Raiders.
Graycochea opened up the winner-take-all set with two straight kills for the Red Raiders.
Kauai held a 6-2 lead in the first eight possessions and didn’t let the Warriors get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Graycochea finished with six kills and an ace in the team’s 15-9 final set victory with teammates Gilian Gregorio and Harris chipping in with a kill and block, respectively.
Coach Carvalho said his team showed heart coming back from being down 2-1 and thought his girls’ sticking together on the court was the key factor in their victory.
“I think just the all-around play of everyone finally playing together as a team, picking each other up when somebody wasn’t doing well was the key,” said Carvalho. “In games passed we kind of played as individuals and that’s where we fell apart.”
Carvalho was also quick to praise his outside hitter, Graycochea.
“As a sophomore, she played unbelievable, there was no stopping her and I’m glad our setters kept feeding her the ball,” he said. “For the boys we have this term called ‘feed the beast’ and tonight she proved that she was the beast.”
Head coach of Kapaa, Evan Costa, implemented new assignment strategies both in the front and back row to get better passes to their middles in Friday night’s game.
“They responded pretty well,” said Costa. “But again, it comes down to passing, our basics, the little things again, that you got to just clean up. We’re still working on the little things.”
Costa believed that Kauai was steady Friday night and that that was one of the reasons they were able to beat his Warriors.
On top of Graycochea’s 22 kills, she also recorded five aces.
Kauai’s Rivera totaled nine kills during the match while teammates Harris and Kaeo had six and four kills, respectively.
Leading the Warriors attack was Keoho with 11 kills, followed by Daligcon-Pomaikai with 8 and Kunani Tuttle with six.
Kauai was also strong on the serve as a team as Esaki recorded four aces while teammate Cadavona got three of her own to add to Graycochea’s total.
The Red Raiders improve to 6-3 on the season while Kapaa falls to 4-5.
• In JV action Friday night, the Warriors took out the Red Raiders 25-20, 25-11, 25-27.
Over at Island School, the Waimea Menehune junior varsity and varsity teams beat the Voyagers of Island School.
In JV action, the Menehune beat Island School 25-4, 25-12, 25-23 while the varsity swept 25-13, 25-12, 25-14.
The Menehune improve to 8-2 on the season while the Voyagers fall to 0-8.
KIF volleyball returns Tuesday when the Kauai High Red Raiders host the Waimea Menehune and the Island School Voyagers travel to Kapaa to take on the Warriors. Both matches begin with JV at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity to follow no earlier than 6:30 p.m.