KAPAA — The last time the Red Raiders and Warrior girls met, both teams were pushed to their limits over five sets. This time around, the Red Raiders proved much tougher.
Kauai High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Kapaa in straight sets in Tuesday’s playoff game, 25-20, 25-19, 25-13, to win the first round of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.
“They played as one team — exactly what I needed them to do,” said Kauai head coach Dorene Matias. “Such a tough battle. They battled between each other.”
The Red Raiders coach said she made adjustments after losing to Kapaa in their first meet earlier this season and now she and her team are seeing the fruits of their labor.
“I believe they bought into the system (after the five-set win) with Kapaa. That’s when I knew they bought in,” she said. “They wanted it. That was the difference.
“They told me again not to worry. Of course, I still did worry. But they did it. They did it themselves,” Matias added.
Junior outside hitter Leisa Eto got the game-winning kill for Kauai at the end of the third set. She said getting that kill to seal the victory was a thrill.
“I knew that was the last point. So I had to keep it in, but at the same time (hit) it hard,” Eto said. “I just all of my feelings into that one hit.
“We’ve been communicating more and we’ve been following the ball out to the line instead of just letting it drop … We just continued to work harder, pushed and tried our best,” she added.
Kapaa head coach Evan Costa said having numbers and experience is Kauai’s advantage.
“Bottom line, we didn’t bring the fight. We were playing not to lose rather than playing to win,” he said. “(It was) evident in their faces they were looking for somebody else to step up. No matter how much we corrected them, yelled at them, it just wasn’t happening.
“They could have been stressed out. They’ve never been in this situation, whether it be in club (or KIF), to really compete in volleyball. It’s a new line that they’ve got to step over. Right now, they were afraid to step over that line and challenge themselves.”
Warriors sophomore middle Paea Tafea said perhaps the moment was overwhelming for herself and her team considering what was at stake and all they can do now is focus on the season’s second round.
“We just got to play our game. Our game is better that how we played tonight,” she said. “Kauai High is a tough team to beat, but we know we can beat them.”
Kauai (5-1 KIF) will travel to Island School (0-6 KIF) and Kapaa (5-1 KIF) will host Waimea (2-4 KIF) on Tuesday, Oct. 7 to start the second round. The junior varsity games begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
“(The other teams) will figure things out. They’ll change lineups and get stronger and smarter. We just have to make sure that we do the same. We have to progress the same as they do,” Matias said about looking forward to the season’s second half.