Kauai defeats Kapaa over five sets

LIHUE — For the second time this season, the Red Raider girls and Warrior wahine went the distance. Just like the last time, the Red Raiders were victorious.

Kauai High School’s varsity girls volleyball team beat Kapaa at home on Tuesday night. The Red Raiders (9-1 KIF, 3-0 second round, 1-0 playoff) won the first, third and fifth sets, 25-20, 25-17 and 15-9.

The Warriors (8-2 KIF, 2-1 second round, 0-1 playoff) won the second and fourth sets, 25-15 and 25-23.

“There were many moments where either we took off or they took off. It was going back and forth so many times,” said Kauai head coach Dorene Matias. “It really came down to who really wanted the game the most … That’s all I told the girls. ‘Who wants it the most is going to win.’”

Senior libero Tahra Kaui hit the game-winning ace for the Red Raiders. It was the only point she scored throughout the match.

“I was pretty nervous. Who wouldn’t be nervous? You have the crowd standing up cheering. The gym was so loud. I just brought the noise out and focused on what I needed to do,” Kaui said about serving at that moment before hitting the ace. “I was so excited (when the ball hit the floor). I just wanted to drop down and cry tears of joy.”

Outsider hitters, senior Harley Kaeo and junior Adrienne Graycochea, led Kauai’s offensive attack. Graycochea had 14 kills and two aces. Kaeo had 13 kills, including that which won her team the first set.

Both teams struggled with ball service more than usual, accounting for eight service errors each.

“It’s part of the big-game pressure. This was a big game to get off on a good start (in the second round),” said Kapaa head coach Evan Costa. “Yeah, you want to serve the ball tough and you try to take chances. But in big games, it’s easier said than done.

“Yeah, we came up short. We’ve always said Kauai High is the most experienced team. But I’m very pleased and proud of our girls that they came to play … They finally brought the fight,” he added.

Junior outside hitter and middle back Haaheo Mahinai was among Kapaa’s offensive leaders with 11 kills. Senior Eryka Keoho contributed 10 kills and sophomore Paea Tafea had nine.

“We just have to work harder at practice, dig deep on the court and leave everything out there,” Mahinai said about hopefully earning a chance at a second-round playoff game.

Earlier in the evening, Kapaa’s junior varsity team beat Kauai 2-1, winning the first and thirds sets, 25-19 and 25-20. Kauai won the second set, 25-20.

Kauai will host Island School (0-9 KIF, 0-3 second round) and Kapaa will play at Waimea (3-6 KIF, 1-2 second round) on Friday. The JV games will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.

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