WAIMEA — Though the Warriors were beaten the last time by the Menehune, they got the victory this time around when it counted most.
Kapaa High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Waimea, 3-1, Friday evening at Waimea High School. With the win, Kapaa (5-1 KIF) won the first round of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.
“I have a huge respect for (Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza) and his program. You look at those girls, the ball doesn’t hit the ground. He mixes things up and he keeps us off balance,” said Kapaa head coach Evan Costa following the win. “It just so happens our girls, they played it tonight. But for what Chad does, he just pushes the limit.”
Kapaa won the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-19, and won the fourth, 25-15.
The Warriors got out to a 7-1 lead en route to winning the final set. Senior middle blocker Siokapesi Paua got the game-winning kill and senior setter Kunani Tuttle got the assist. Paua ended the game with seven kills.
“It felt really great to come back from last time after losing once. This time, I think we played together more. We were more united and we picked each other up really quick,” Tuttle said. “It feels really good that all the hard work is paying off, but we’re not done yet.”
Waimea (4-2 KIF) won the third set, 25-22. With a 23-22 advantage in the late stages, seniors outside hitter Ariell Aquino-Lazaro and middle blocker Shania Kahepuu scored the next two points to seal the set for the Menehune. Senior setter Alyssa Pigao got the assists on both plays.
After surrendering a double-digit lead in the fourth, Waimea couldn’t find a way to come back and force a fifth set even though the team did so days prior against Kauai High School.
“It’s not an everyday thing that our team has taken it to five. We’ve been talking about competing hard knowing we might win or we might lose,” Delanoza said. “For us, we couldn’t get it started. With that, we’ve been talking about practice and that’s where it’s got to start. A lot of credit to Kapaa tonight.”
The Menehune coach added starting fast is what the team needs to figure out how it wants to move forward.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to get out of the blocks better in matches. It’s been a struggle after we got off to a good beginning, and then we got sluggish. It seems like we work extra hard to get back in matches, and that’s not how we want to do it,” he said. “We want to play from the get-go. Hopefully, we’re at that competitive nature right from the beginning instead of trying to do the extra stuff.”
Junior middle blocker Paea Tafea had 14 kills, including the set-winners in the first and second sets, and a block for Kapaa. Senior backside hitter Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai had nine kills and three blocks. Tuttle had 32 assists, four kills and an ace.
Aquino-Lazaro had 13 kills and an ace for the Menehune. Kahepuu had eight kills, including that which won the third set, two blocks and two assists. Senior middle blocker Brandee Burton had six kills, three blocks and an ace. Pigao had 29 assists and a kill.
Kapaa’s junior varsity team also defeated Waimea and won all three sets, 25-16, 25-13 and 25-14.
In the evening’s other KIF match, Kauai High (3-3 KIF) beat Island School in straight sets, 25-14, 25-12 and 25-8. The JV Red Raiders also beat the Voyagers, 25-11, 25-18 and 25-11.
The season will resume on Sept. 29. Kapaa will host Kauai High and Waimea will play at home versus Island School (0-6 KIF) to begin the KIF second round. The JV games will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Costa said consistency will be the key moving forward into the later half of the season.
“Whether it be the servicing, the defense or offense, just being consistent and steady (is important),” he said. “That’s what I’m learning watching the other teams. They kind of bounce back. Again, just consistency is what we’re going to need.”