KAPAA — The Kapaa middle held strong and Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai blossomed on the right side to edge out the Kauai High School girls volleyball team in four sets Saturday night before a nice-sized crowd that nearly filled Bernice Hundley Gym at Kapaa High School.
“They were the power,” Kapaa coach Evan Costa said. “I told the girls to feed them — we’re riding them to the end.”
They won 25-22, 25-16, 13-25 and 27-25.
Down 23-19 in the final set facing a possible fifth match, Costa called a time out.
“We gotta dig ourselves out of the cesspool,” Costa said. “We have to scramble; we put ourselves here. It’s going to take guts. Take a deep breath and go. Guts.”
When the girls returned to the floor, it appeared the time out didn’t work as Kauai stayed ahead on a Tia Takasaki hit for the 24th point leaving Kapaa chasing two points to tie.
The Warriors were fired up when Siokapesi Paua went up the middle and Kunani Tuttle dumped the ball on the right side, coupled with a Kauai hitting error that trimmed the margin to two points.
With the Raiders close to forcing a fifth set, Paua hammered the middle and Paea Tafea blocked an Adrienne Graycochea bang from the backside. Tafea pushed the ball over the middle for the advantage only to have Monique Tomacder hammer the ball from the opposite side, erupting in glee as the score deadlocked 25-25.
Tafea went head-to-head with Rachel Curnan, and a Daligcon-Pomaikai kill from the opposite side sealed the Kapaa win.
“The middle is yet to be decided,” Costa said. “Nobody wants to be taken out and when they get called on, they work hard. I call them my ‘Polynesian Triangle.’”
Despite dropping the first two sets, Kauai fought hard with several new faces getting more time on the floor.
“The girls worked hard at practice,” said Kauai coach Dorene Matias. “We fixed a lot of little things which were costly to our game. The girls played exactly the way we want them to play — full of confidence and working really hard on the floor. We were way ahead in the first set, but couldn’t close the door.”
Facing a 5-4 deficit in the first set, Kauai pulled ahead to a 10-6 advantage behind hits from Graycochea, Taegan Keep, a block from freshman Rebecca Zenger, and a hit from Tori Nobriga that forced a Kapaa passing error.
Kauai controlled the court until Kapaa deadlocked the match, 15-15, behind a Tafea bang up the middle before pulling ahed on a Haaheo Mahinai kill. Kapaa widened the margin on hits from Daligcon-Pomaikai, Tafea and Keani Tolenoa before sealing the deal on a Kauai service error.
“We still have a little more of those glitches to work on,” Matias said. “But the girls came to play tonight. We need to learn to finish. I’m really proud of how the girls played tonight. We face Kapaa two more times before the season ends, and you can be sure it’s going to be interesting. It should only get better for us from here.”
Costa said he was very pleased with the Saturday night win.
“We beat them the first meeting,” Costa said. “But there was this feeling that we didn’t do it the way we could. We became complacent, flat-footed. I told the girls we came to watch volleyball, not play volleyball. They had the best seats in the house. Tonight, they came to play volleyball, and everyone had a real good game to watch.”
Earlier in the evening, the Kapaa junior varsity took its match, 20-25, 25-22, and 26-24.
Kauai next hosts league-leading Waimea while Kapaa travels to Island School on Tuesday. The change in date is due to the start of the endangered seabird fledgling season which starts Tuesday and moves football games from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
The junior varsity girls volleyball game serves up at 5 p.m. with the varsity games starting no earlier than 6:30 p.m.