LIHUE — The Kapaa High School girls volleyball team survived a strong and spirited challenge from a young Kauai High School team to win in four sets, 25-18, 26-24, 20-25, and 25-19, Wednesday night before several hundred enthusiastic fans who sweltered in the humid Kauai High School gym.
“Kapaa came prepared,” said Kauai coach Dorene Matias. “We have a young team and I wasn’t sure we would be able to compete. But the girls are willing to work and I was pleased with how they stayed close to Kapaa throughout the night. We still have a lot of work to do, mistakes to clean up, and get ready to face Waimea on Saturday.”
The Warrior varsity girls opened strong on the heels of their junior varsity squads taking a 2-1 series — 25-23, 23-25, 25-20 — against the Red Raider JV.
A kill from Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai put the Warriors up, 7-4, but the serving from Kauai captain Tia Takasaki kept Kauai close as the 10th grader marked three straight points from the block before Daligcon-Pomaikai ended the streak on a kill to preserve the Kapaa margin, 13-9.
The seesaw continued until Kapaa put away the match on hits from Keani Tolenoa, Kunani Tuttle, and Daligcon-Pomaikai.
“Tori is our best blocker,” said Kapaa coach Evan Costa, entering his third year at the helm. “She took care of our rightside good, tonight. We’ve got depth, but we need to take care of little things like communicating, passing, and running the offense like how we practice.”
Costa kept his starters rolling in the first two sets before mixing in elements from the bench.
“We tried to spread things out,” Costa said. “We normally run the middle, but we couldn’t get the passes in.”
Paea Tafea, Siokapesi Paua, and Tupou Paua anchored the middle for Kapaa while Kauai got strong play from 10th grader Rachel Cuman.
Cuman pulled Kauai into the fray during the second set when Kapaa surged into the lead following a 3-3 tie on a Kauai service error. Cuman’s block in the middle deadlocked the match only to give up the lead on another service miscue. Kauai deadlocked the match at 24-24 behind another block, but Daligcon-Pomaikai’s hit coupled with a Red Raider passing error gave the match to Kapaa, 26-24.
“The girls are starting to see,” Matias said. “We played in the McKinley tournament during the preseason and the girls were close, dropping to Aiea, 26-27 on a 27-point cap, the eventual tournament champion, by just one point, and losing to the team we faced at states last year, 25-22. The girls are starting to get it.”
The Red Raiders got a nice performance from Adrienne Graycochea, who sealed the 26-24 win on a kill. Leisa Eto, Mie Miller, and freshman Rebecca Zenger also showed good court presence.
Kauai travels to Waimea on Saturday with the JV games starting at 5 p.m., and the varsity match starting no earlier than 6:30 p.m. Kapaa will host Island School at the Bernice Hundley Gym.