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Red Raider girls win thriller

LIHUE — The Red Raider wahine held on to win a stirring five-set match at home.

Kauai High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Waimea, 3-2, Tuesday evening.

“I felt that this was an awesome game. The girls had been playing well together the last two games,” said Kauai head coach Dorene Matias. “They made some mistakes. That’s normal. Nobody can play a perfect game. But I think they did good.”

Kauai (2-3 KIF) won the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-19, and were poised to win in straight sets. Waimea, however, rallied and won the following two sets to force a fifth.

With the score tied at 12, senior outside hitter Adrienne Graycochea scored Kauai’s next three points, the last being a block, to seal the final frame for the Red Raiders, 15-12.

“That was amazing. That was like the best feeling ever,” Graycochea said about the game-winning block. “I’ll always remember it.”

Though the Red Raiders are out of contention for the season’s first round, Matias hopes the win will serve as a launching point.

“I hope that they remember how it feels and that they remember how to finish, because they’ve done it already. Let’s see,” she said.

Waimea (4-1 KIF) won the third and fourth sets, 25-23 and 25-20. In the fourth, senior outside hitter Ariell Aquino-Lazaro scored seven consecutive points for Waimea.

“We worked. Being down 2-0 and on the road, they showed a lot of character tonight,” said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza about his players. “They showed a lot of sticking together, like we’ve been talking about. Working through a lot of things. In the end, I’m proud of them.”

Delanoza added though the comeback fell short, he hopes the loss will serve as a learning experience.

“You have to be tested to see how all these pieces are going to turn out,” he said. “In the end, they fought and they fought hard. You cannot take nothing away from our kids tonight. Maybe not in the win column tonight, but I think in the end, I think it’s going to help us in the long run.”

Graycochea was Kauai High’s leading scorer with 19 kills, three blocks and an ace. Junior middle Taegan Keep had four blocks, three kills and an assist, and senior setter Leisa Eto recorded 17 assists, five kills, two blocks and two aces.

Aquino-Lazaro had 27 kills and two aces for the Menehune. Senior setter Alyssa Pigao recorded 52 assists. Senior middle blocker Brandee Burton had 11 kills, a block and an ace.

Kauai also won the junior varsity match against Waimea, 2-1. The JV Red Raiders won the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-20, and the Menehune won the last, 25-18.

In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation match, Kapaa (4-1 KIF) topped Island School in straight sets, 25-13, 25-13 and 25-15. The Warriors also won the JV match, 2-1, winning the first and third sets, 25-20 and 25-17. The JV Voyagers won the second set, 25-17.

Waimea will host Kapaa and Kauai will play at home against Island School (0-5 KIF) on Friday. The JV games will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.

Whoever wins the contest between the Menehune and the Warriors will claim the KIF season’s first round.

“The first thing we’ll do is get back to practice tomorrow, and then we’ll sort out what we got to sort out to make things right,” Delanoza said. “Friday is Friday. We don’t want to get too far ahead. We still want to know why everything turned out like it did tonight. Hopefully, it will kind of work its way through.”

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