LIHUE — The Warriors varsity boys volleyball team defeated the Red Raiders, 3-1, Tuesday evening at Kauai High School.
The win puts Kapaa (7-3 KIF, 3-0 second round, 0-1 playoff) in the lead of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season’s second round.
“We started off slow. We weren’t talking and connecting,” said Kapaa senior setter Kai Harrison. “We got one timeout in the second set, and we started getting our serves in, our talking got better and passes got better. We all got up and got excited.”
“We just got to be comfortable (going forward) — be comfortable playing, be comfortable on the court with the crowd and all the noise, and just keep our heads and keep talking. Communication is key for us,” he added about possibly keeping the lead with three games remaining in the regular season.
Kauai (8-3 KIF, 2-1 second round, 2-0 playoff) won the opening set, 25-16, capped off by a game-winning block by junior middle Kekoa Tecson, and started the second game with a 9-5 lead.
“They were executing everything correctly,” said Red Raiders co-head coach Dorene Matias. “They were still making a lot of little mistakes, and then it all went south after that. We tried to catch up. We lost a lot of momentum.”
Kapaa called a timeout after another slow start in the second set. The Warriors then came out with a 7-point streak to take the lead en route to winning the set, 25-19. Sophomore middle hitter Carson Schmick got the score to seal the win for Kapaa.
“That was a turning point in this game,” said Warriors head coach Kapule Kaona. “In that timeout, all I said was that we need a leader out there. Someone needs to step up, but I don’t think just one person stood up. They all kind of stepped up together.”
The Warriors then won the following two sets, 29-27 and 25-20.
Kaona said among his players, the improved play from junior middle Mosese Fifita and senior setter Kai Harrison particularly stood out in the road win.
“We were able to run our middles and get them involved, which was nonexistent in our previous match,” Kaona said. “When we can get him (Fifita) the ball, we’re excited for that. We need to get him more opportunities, but that’s all dependent on our passing. And I thought our passing was pretty decent tonight.”
Matias said her observations during practice the night before hinted her team wouldn’t be as prepared as it could have been. She hopes the loss will serve as a lesson learned with the season winding down.
“Their demeanor was too light. I always believe the day before should be more quiet and focused, and then you leave knowing everything worked well. I left feeling that there was a lot of things we didn’t get to cover,” she said. “We had a nice, long talk in there (after the game). I think the boys will be ready tomorrow for practice and focus on the things we need to fix.”
Junior opposite hitter Max Nice had 17 kills, an ace and a block for the Warriors. Schmick had 13 kills, a block and an ace. Senior outside hitter Rudy Agoot had 13 kills, an ace and a block. Junior middle hitter Mosese Fifita had 10 kills, including the game-winner from the final set, and two blocks.
Senior outside hitter Kalawaia Judd had 14 kills and an ace for the Red Raiders. Tecson and senior middles Tyler Fernandez and Lii Colipano each had 10 kills.
In the junior varsity game, Kauai beat Kapaa in all three sets, 26-24, 25-23 and 25-23.
Kapaa will play at Waimea and Kauai will host Island School on Friday. The JV games will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.