Red Raiders force first round playoff

LIHUE — The first round of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season is not over yet.

Kauai High School’s varsity girls volleyball team knocked off Kapaa in five sets at home Friday to force a first round playoff game.

The Red Raiders (5-1 KIF) beat the Warriors 25-22, 16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-11.

“The girls did exactly what I needed them to do, which was to keep tempo, to play a faster game and play great defense — they delivered,” said Kauai head coach Dorene Matias. “(We were) trying to figure out how we could capitalize on some of the smaller weaknesses that they have because they don’t have a lot. Pushing them to the fifth set was to our advantage.

“We went back and forth for a little while. That kind of scared me, but the girls told me not to worry … They basically did it themselves,” she added. 

After losing the first set in which the Red Raiders built an early 9-3 lead, the momentum shifted back to the Warriors when they won the second and third sets and were in position to come away victorious. 

Kauai then won the fourth and fifth sets down the stretch as each of those sets were closely contested throughout. 

“It feels very good. We worked so hard since the summer,” Red Raiders senior outside hitter Jondee Rivera said. “It was a mental game. We didn’t know if we could beat them. Now we know that we can beat them.”

Though the Warriors beat Kauai in their first match, Kapaa head coach Evan Costa said Kauai is the most experienced KIF team this season, and this game proved it.

“I knew it was in them — at some point that would show up,” Costa said about Kauai being a seasoned team. “Yeah, we had a run on them in sets two and three. But because of their years of experience, if you let them hang around, this is the result … they (my players) know they left the door open.”

Though losing is disappointing, especially because they had a chance to secure the first round, Warriors senior outside hitter Eryka Keoho said she and her teammates cannot dwell on the loss because they will see the Red Raiders again very soon.

“I think we played a really good game. We’re both good teams,” Keoho said. “We just got to play our hearts out. We just got to put everything on the court … and just got to weather the storm.”

The Red Raiders and the Warriors (5-1 KIF) will play the first round playoff game 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kapaa High School. 

“Both team are really great. We’re both coming for the same thing,” Matias said about Tuesday’s playoff match. “We’re going to put out our best.”

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