KAPAA — The seniors of Kapaa High School’s boys volleyball team repeatedly said they were extra motivated to come out on top this season after losing the championship game last year.
Kapaa (11-1 regular season, 5-1 in second round) defeated Kauai 3-1 in Tuesday’s second round playoff game to claim the Kauai Interscholastic Federation title.
After losing the first set to the Red Raiders, 25-22, the Warriors won the following three sets, 25-20, 25-14, 25-21.
“It was like, ‘Come on boys. Let’s turn it on. We can’t lose this one,’” said Kapaa senior middle Nicholas Hantz about losing the first set. “We gave it everything we got and just went from there.
“I’m beyond happy that we won. Redemption is a good word for it. We pulled it off,” he added.
The Kapaa crowd erupted with cheers when junior left back Rudy Agoot scored the final kill to give his team the season crown.
“It’s the best feeling,” Agoot said about scoring the final point for his team. “We played our hearts out. We worked really hard for this season.”
Kapaa head coach Kapule Kaona said winning his first league championship as a coach was “awesome.”
“We fell short of our goal last year. To finally get that under our belt feels amazing,” the Warriors coach said. “I’m mentally tired. I’m physically tired. But it’s amazing.”
After losing the third set, Kauai (9-3 regular season, 5-1 in second round) met in the visitor’s locker room and tried to spark a comeback.
“I just said, ‘Our backs are against the wall. We need to play like there’s no tomorrow,’” said Kauai head coach Merrill Carvalho about gathering his team after the third set. “We started off really strong, but then Kapaa just matched us. It was a battle.”
Kauai started the fourth set with a 6-0 lead, but couldn’t sustain it in the later stages of the match. Kapaa finished the contest after taking a 22-21 lead.
Though losing the playoff game was disappointing, Kauai head coach Merrill Carvalho said Kapaa is deserving of winning the league title this year.
“We tried to play our best. I wish the outcome would have been different where we would have forced one more game, but this is what it is. This is what sports is all about,” Carvalho said. “It sucks to lose … It’s unfortunate we made too many unforced errors. A lot of netting, ball handling, stuff like that.
“Kapaa was the better team this evening and they showed it throughout the whole season,” he added.
Red Raiders junior Kalawaia Judd said he feels bad for the team’s seniors and not being able to extend their season at least one more game.
“We wanted to give them back-to-back (championships),” he said. “We peaked in the first set … We tried to fight our way back, but it was too late.”
Kapaa will fly to Oahu May 8 for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament.
“Not a whole lot of time to (prepare),” Kaona said. “I told the boys to take the weekend off and I’ll see you guys next week Monday. They were like, ‘No. We’re back in the gym tomorrow night coach.’
“We enjoyed tonight. We’re back in the gym tomorrow. Now we’re just focused on the state tournament,” he added.