KAPAA — Halfway through the season’s first round, only one team remains unbeaten.
Waimea High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Kapaa, 3-1, Wednesday evening at Kapaa High School. With the win, Waimea (3-0 KIF) took hold of the top spot in the first round standings.
“Whoever thought we’d be here?” said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza. “The past couple of days, they’ve been working hard. They’ve been relying on each other and still putting in the effort necessary for us to be successful tonight. I’m really proud of what they did overall.”
“Taking nothing away from Kapaa. They’re a big team, and they’ll be back. They’re well-coached,” he added. “At the end of the night, there’s a winner and there’s a loser. Just tonight, we played a little better at the end and I’m proud of what they did.”
The Menehune and the Warriors (2-1 KIF) split the first two sets. Waimea won the first set, 25-22, and Kapaa took the second, 25-20.
Kapaa led midway through the third set, 15-11. Waimea worked out of that deficit to tie the score, 20-20. Menehune senior outside hitter Ariell Aquino-Lazaro got the set-winning kill to complete the comeback, 25-23. Senior setter Alyssa Pigao got the assist.
“We just had to dig deep,” Pigao said about overcoming to win the third set. “When you dig deep, you find holes and you find all this kind of new stuff you never noticed. It worked.”
Waimea then won the fourth set, 25-20, to seal the win. Pigao said coming back in the third set boosted the team’s morale in the final frame.
“It was really huge for us. In the fourth set, you could tell everybody’s mood was lighter. No one felt down on each other,” she said. “I don’t know. It’s just an awesome feeling.”
Delanoza hopes the team will continue to play well going into the second half of the first round and the rest of the season.
“We go back to practice. That’s where it starts off again,” he said. “We’ll enjoy it for tonight. It’s a tough place to come here and play, period. What we do tomorrow is strictly back to the fundamentals, like we’ve been talking about. Hopefully, we’ll continue to roll.”
Kapaa head coach Evan Costa said the loss is a good lesson for his team to not take sets for granted, even if they have a lead.
“Yeah we’re a senior-heavy team, whatever. It just came down to Waimea showed up,” Costa said. “It comes down to commitment. You get a good run. You got to sustain it. How much are you willing to dig deep and stay committed to your role in the team. That came back to bite us in the okole.”
“We’re going to go back to practice and break it down. Try to keep it as simple as possible. But, again, Waimea, their coaching staff as well as the players, they showed up,” he added. “They played to win tonight. We played not to lose.”
Warriors junior middle blocker Paea Tafea, too, said the team played to not lose rather than to win.
“We played to just play. We came out. We took Waimea easy and we shouldn’t have done that. Not at all,” she said. “They were the better team tonight, and that’s guaranteed.”
Aquino-Lazaro was Waimea’s leading scorer with 20 kills and a block. Pigao had 29 assists, one kill and an ace. Junior middle blocker Shania Kahepuu got seven kills and a block and an assist.
Tafea recorded eight kills and eight blocks for Kapaa. Senior setter Kunani Tuttle had 26 assists, three aces and two blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Tupou Paua had six kills and a block, and senior backside hitter Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai had five kills and an ace.
Kapaa won all three sets versus Waimea in the junior varsity game, 25-18, 28-26 and 25-22.
In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation matchup, Kauai High defeated Island School in straight sets, 25-14, 25-12 and 25-18, at the Island School gym in Puhi. The Red Raiders also won all three sets in the the JV match, 25-20, 25-10 and 25-17.
Waimea will host Island School (0-3 KIF) and Kapaa will host Kauai (1-2 KIF) on Friday. JV matches will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.