Warriors hold off Red Raiders rally

KAPAA — Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Kauai High 3-1 Friday evening at home.

Kapaa (3-0 KIF) led in the fourth set by six points and was on the cusp of sealing the home win. A kill by Warriors junior middle Saxsen Shiira gave the team a 23-17 lead.

“Volleyball is a game of momentum. It can change with one play or one player,” said Kapaa head coach Kapule Kaona. “It’s something we’re trying to work on. Once we’ve got the foot on the pedal, we’ve got to keep our foot on the pedal and not let off.”

Kauai High then went on seven-point streak, capped off by blocks from each senior outside hitter Damien Butac and junior middle blocker Tajh Mapuhi, to give the Red Raiders a 24-23 lead and a chance to force a fifth set.

“Again, this is a very young team. They still have a lot to learn,” said Kauai head coach Enoch Aana. “A lot of them have only been playing for five-and-a-half months. Technically, they’re not all year-round players. That’s not an excuse. It’s just that they’re a very young team. For our lone senior on the court, to hold this team together, I was very proud.”

The Warriors would score the next three points, capped off with the game-winning kill by senior outside hitter Max Nice, to win the fourth set, 26-24.

“It felt really satisfying,” Nice said about that kill. “Especially because the last game we couldn’t finish it, it felt really good. It felt like we came out and we did what we wanted to do.”

After losing the first set, Kapaa won the second and third sets, 25-16 and 28-26. Nice also got the game-winning ace in the third set.

“We started off really offset. We came back just minimizing all our errors. We started playing like how we usually do,” Nice said. “We just need to focus on finishing throughout the match.”

Kauai High won the opening set, 25-23.

“We didn’t get the ‘W’ today, but those guys played with their hearts out,”Aana said. “That’s all I could have asked for. We’re just going to keep practicing hard, and results shall follow.”

Kaona added he and his team went through a little uneasiness since Tuesday’s match versus Waimea.

A fire extinguisher was set off in Kapaa’s gym and the game officials stoppede the match. At that point, Kapaa had won the first two sets and were leading the third set, 19-17.

Kaona said he was told the season’s first round would be played out first and if that unfinished game had bearing, then Kapaa and Waimea will finish that match at a date to be determined.

“I think with Tuesday’s incident happening, there was no closure; it was a little unsettling for the boys. We weren’t sure how to feel,” Kaona said. “It felt like something was missing. So coming into this, we tried to focus more on us and trying to close this out. Good thing we were able to close it out with a ‘W.’”

Nice finished with 15 kills and two aces for Kapaa. Shiira had 13 kills and a block. Junior setter Jayson Hawthorne had 38 assists.

Butac had seven kills, three digs and a block for Kauai High. Mapuhi had 10 kills, two aces and a blcok. Junior setter Tyron Libarios had 14 kills and 12 assists.

Kauai High won the junior varsity game, 2-1, winning the first and third sets, 30-28 and 25-17. Kapaa JV team won the second set, 28-26.

Kapaa will next play at Island School and Kauai High (1-3 KIF) will host Waimea on Tuesday. The JV games will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.

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