LIHUE — The Warriors started their 2016 campaign with a victory on the road.
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Kauai High, 3-1, Tuesday evening in Lihue.
“It’s always great to start off with a win. I think it does a lot of things for the boys’ confidence,” said Warriors head coach Kapule Kaona. “It sets a good tone for the rest of the season.”
Ahead two sets to one, Kapaa (1-0 KIF) led the fourth set, 23-20, and had Kauai High on the ropes. But two blocks from Red Raiders middle blocker Tajh Mapuhi kept Kauai High alive.
The Warriors would hold off the Red Raiders to win that fourth set, 25-23. Senior outside hitter Max Nice scored Kapaa’s game-winning kill.
“Our goal coming into this evening was to take care of our side of the net — worry about our side and not so much what Kauai High was doing,” Kaona said. “That was the focus. If we could do that, we felt pretty good about our chances coming into this game.”
Kauai High (0-1 KIF) won the first set, 25-19, capped off with a set-winning ace by junior setter Jhay Karl Miguel. The Red Raiders then started the second frame with an 11-4 advantage.
“I think everybody was excited that it was our first game. I think everybody was excited that we could play at a high level,” Kauai High head coach Enoch Aana said of the early success. “At the second game, I think everybody let down. I’m a big stickler of never celebrating too early. … We had an opportunity and we lost it.”
Kapaa then rallied with a 6-point streak to level the match at 13 apiece and went on to win the set, 25-20.
En route to winning that game, Kapaa junior outside hitter Carson Schmick scored on a play that energized the team and got cheers from the Warrior crowd.
On the third contact and the ball going toward the service line, Schmick went back and got a fist under the ball to get it over the net. A Red Raider attempted to get under the ball, but it fell to the floor — awarding Schmick the point to give Kapaa a 16-15 lead.
Riding that wave, Kapaa went on to win the third set, 25-16.
“That was definitely a crazy play. I was just trying to get the ball over the net — just play defense, honestly,” Schmick said. “And it ends up scoring a point. It was definitely a momentum changer for us. We were able to rally off that energy and score those points.”
For Aana, who’s in his first year as varsity head coach, it wasn’t the season debut he hoped for but still praised his players.
“You’re nervous and excited at the same time. But this was a great game regardless of the outcome,” he said. “The boys played their hearts out. It was everything I hoped it would be.”
Nice had 14 kills and three aces for Kapaa. Schmick had 11 kills. Junior setter Jayson Hawthorne had 29 assists and an ace.
Miguel had 12 assists and an ace for Kauai High. Junior setter Tyron Libarios had nine kills, nine assists and an ace.
“Our shots were on point, but it was the little mistakes like serving and blocking. We had a lot of crossovers,” Libarios said. “They were calling lifts, too, so we just got to work on that.”
Kapaa will host Island School (0-1 KIF) and Kauai High will play at Waimea (1-0 KIF) on Friday. The junior varsity games will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Waimea 3, Island School 0
– 25-23 Waimea, 25-18 Waimea, 26-24 Waimea
Kapaa 2, Kauai 1
– 26-24 Kapaa, 25-13 Kauai, 25-9 Kapaa
Waimea 2, Island School 1
– 25-20 Waimea, 25-21 Waimea, 25-22 Island School