WAIMEA — Nine games into the regular season, the Warriors have not yet tasted defeat.
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team (9-0 KIF, 3-0 2nd round) beat Waimea on Tuesday evening at the Menehune’s home gym. The Warriors won in straight sets, 25-20, 27-25 and 25-20.
“It’s good. It’s nice to be in that driver’s seat, but what it also poses is a big target on your back,” said Warriors head coach Kapule Kaona. “You know everyone is gunning after you. So, I try not to focus too much on that in practice. With the boys, we don’t discuss that because when you do that, it also brings a lot of pressure.
“It feels nice, but it also brings a lot of pressure to maintain that. I, personally, like to always fight. Sometimes when you do that, you get a little too comfortable,” Kaona continued. “I always want the boys to fight harder. It’s a good position to be in, but also we cannot let up on our play.”
Menehune head coach Alton Shimatsu said Kapaa is a good team.
“It’s always a battle,” he said. “I’m not disappointed in the way we played. We did what we could. Kapaa’s a good team, so give them all the credit.”
Waimea (6-3 KIF, 2-1 2nd round) was leading in the late stages of the second set, 22-18.
At that points, Kaona called timeout. Afterwards, Kapaa went on an 8-2 run capped off with a set-winning ace by senior outside hitter Max Nice.
“It was felt so good because we were so far behind. I almost thought we were going to four (sets),” Nice said. “But we kept coming back, and it just gave us that spark. To finish it off, it just lit the fire.”
Kaona said about calling the timeout: “Normally when I call a timeout, it’s just to relax the boys. And we normally just come up with a play. I try to remind them that volleyball is just a basic game of pass, set and hit.”
When Kapaa evened the score at 23-23, Waimea called timeout. Waimea scored two more points — one from a kill by junior outside hitter Carl Mecham — but was unable to take the set.
“We got to learn how to win. We got to learn how to finish, especially when we’re ahead,” Shimatsu said. “I think, judging by the last three Kapaa games, we don’t know how to take advantage of a lead in a tight game like that.
“It’s always easy to have good morale when you’re winning by a lot. But when it’s point-for-point, that’s when a true athlete comes out,” he continued.
Nice had 10 kills, four digs and an ace for Kapaa. Junior outside hitter Carson Schmick had 11 kills, seven digs and a block. Junior setter Jayson Hawthorne had 26 assists, three aces and two kills. Freshman libero Pomai Rabago-Kaiwi had five digs and two aces.
Mecham had 16 kills, nine assists, three aces and two blocks for Waimea. Senior setter Briggs Agu had 17 assists and 10 kills. Junior outside hitter Kaleo Castaneda had seven digs, a kill and an ace. Sophomore middle blocker Jacob Delos Reyes had six kills and three digs.
Kapaa also won the junior varsity match, 2-1. The JV Warriors won the second and third sets, 25-21 and 25-23. The JV Menehune won the opening set, 25-18.
In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation match, Kauai High defeated Island School in straight sets — 25-18, 25-20 and 25-14.
Kauai’s JV team also beat Island School, 2-1, winning the first two sets — 25-17 and 25-22. The JV Voyagers won the last set, 25-23.
Kapaa will play at Kauai High (3-6 KIF, 1-2 2nd round) and Waimea will play at Island School (0-9 KIF, 0-3 2nd round) on Friday. The JV games will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.