Kauai tops Waimea in four sets

WAIMEA — Kauai High School took both ends of its volleyball games, the varsity girls needing four sets to get past Waimea and the junior varsity walking out of the Clem Gomes Gym with a 2-1 edge over the JV Menehune.

The fall break and injuries plagued both teams, who turned to their benches to complete the series.

Kauai varsity finished with a 3-1 win, 28-26, 25-11, 20-25 and 25-12. Earlier, the JV Raiders won 25-18, 17-25 and 25-16.

“We only have 12 players, and with one on vacation and one injured, there’re only 10,” said Chad Delanoza, Waimea coach. “We need to rely on each other. Previously, we had the comfort of some big hitters, but now, all we have is each other and we need to rely on each other.”

Waimea forced five ties in the opening set, a Shania Kahepuu slap knotting the contest, 2-2, and a save by Leeanna Tamashiro leading to a 10-10 deadlock. 

A Kauai service error combined with a Ariell Lazaro hit gave Waimea an 18-16 bulge before Kauai’s Kawehi Harris went up the middle and an ace from Tahra Kaui deadlocked the match, 18-18.

The see-saw continued before Kauai locked up a 28-26 win, when Seanna Date forced a Waimea hitting error.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Dorene Matias, Kauai coach. “We have some of our players out on vacation, and this was an opportunity to use our bench. I’ll let you fill in the blanks.”

Kauai captain Harley Kaeo led play in the second set, picking up key blocks and hits to lead the Raiders to its 25-11 showing.

“We had Harley playing in the back,” Matias said. “Normally, we rotate her out of the back, but tonight, we thought we would work her in the back.”

Kauai never allowed Waimea ahead through the set, Tia Takasaki serving up a string of four points, including an ace before Adrienne Graycochea sealed the win.

“We’ve been working hard, but we got on an unforced error bus and couldn’t get off,” Delanoza said. “The girls were being creative out there, but when it got uncomfortable, pulled back to the center where the big girls were waiting.”

Both teams struggled through the third set when Caitlyn Owen’s serve forced a Raider passing miscue for the 9-7 lead.

Kauai knotted the contest, 12-12, capitalizing on a Waimea service error and a hitting error, and even took the lead 15-13 on more Menehune miscues.

Following a Date smack which deadlocked the match, 16-16, a Waimea time out fueled the Menehune, who built a 23-16 lead behind an ace from Kacielin Hesapene and hits from Kahepuu and Owen.

Lazaro put the game away with a kill.

“The challenge is to find someone who can get us past this (unforced error) stage,” Delanoza said. “For being such a young team, I’m proud of them and their play.”

Kauai hosts Kapaa on Tuesday at the Kauai High School gym while Waimea travels to the Island School gym with the JV game serving up at 5 p.m. and the varsity match starting no earlier than 6:30 p.m.

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