LIHUE — Kauai High School boys worked hard through five sets to defeat Kapaa and claim the Kauai Interscholastic Federation boys volleyball season’s first round Monday night at the Kauai High School gym.
After taking the first set, 25-23, Kauai dropped the next two sets, 25-23 and 25-23.
Trailing by as much as 9-15 in the fourth set, Kauai clawed back to force the fifth set, 25-23, before a enthusiastic crowd in both camps.
Both teams exchanged point-for-point exchanges through the fifth set before Kauai locked up the match, 18-16, behind kills from Kalawaia Judd for the advantage, and Kekoa Kalani Tecson for the match.
“This was an excellent game, overall,” said Kapule Kaona, Kapaa coach. “Someone has to come out on the bottom, and tonight, that was us.”
Looking at a 23-22 deficit in the opening set following a dump up the middle by Carson Schmick, Kauai answered on a Judd kill for the 24-22 go-ahead. Back-to-back Kapaa miscues, including one in the service block, gave Kauai the set.
“Both sides played good volleyball, both sides had errors,” Kaona said.
Kapaa put a string of seven points together in the second set, capitalizing on three Kauai errors and making a statement on kills from Schmick and Rudy Agoot along with an ace from Junard Mata for the 22-19 go-ahead.
A Raider misfire at the net saw Kapaa up 24-22. Judd’s kill pulled Kauai to within one before Kapaa’s Max Nice shut the window for the 25-23 set.
“The boys got to find their chemistry out there,” said Dorene Matias, the Kauai coach. “Kapaa plays real tough, and tonight Rudy Agoot not only got the kills, he put a twist on the ball. Max Nice, the left-hander, also had some good ball placement.”
Going through lead exchanges through the 12-10 Kauai advantage, Kapaa again strung up four points for the 14-12 go-ahead in the third set behind an ace from Nice as well as a push from the opposite side which forced a Kauai passing error.
The Raiders were down 20-16 before Melvin Tingzon triggered back-to-back kills to trim it to 20-18.
Lii Colipano forced a Kapaa error for the 22-22 deadlock before Nice and Mosese Fifita went up the middle for the 25-23 win.
Kapaa continued the momentum in the fourth set, taking a 6-1 advantage before Tingzon’s kill kicked the Raiders into gear.
Facing a 9-15 deficit, Kauai strung up four points behind a Judd kill, a Kapaa net violation, and Tyler Fernandez’s slam up the middle before Judd misfired to pull Kauai to a 13-15 chase.
Staying close, Kauai’s Braeden Armstrong dug out a Kapaa missile, which soared back over the net, landing inbounds for the 22-22 deadlock.
At a 23-23 stalemate, Kauai notched two straight kills by Judd and Tingzon to force the fifth set, 25-23.
The lead exchanged throughout the final set before a Kapaa passing error put Kauai up 16-15. Kauai misfired for the 16-16 deadlock before Judd forced a Kapaa lift and Kalani Tecson sealed the deal down the middle.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Matias. “The boys are good, and we have a lot of weapons. But along with that come the mistakes. We need to clean those up.”
Former Red Raiders coach Merrill Carvalho tracked Kauai’s statistics and said that Judd was on fire with 23 kills for the night.
Colipano finished with 16 kills, Tingzon had 14, Tyler Fernandez finished with 12, and Kalani Tecson marked four, including the game sealer up the middle.
Marcus Carvalho finished with 42 assists and Armstrong ended with 18.
“The boys are really tired,” Matias said. “But the second round starts Tuesday against Island School, and we need to get going on a high note. We cannot take anyone lightly.”
Kaona said all his team can do is prepare for the second round.
“The boys are looking at this as a defeat,” Kaona said. “There is no rest because we host Waimea Tuesday. The first round is already past us. I’m positive about the character of the boys. The game against Waimea is going to challenge our stamina and mental toughness which will get us through Round 2.”