KAPAA — The Warrior girls started their 2016 season with a win at home.
Kapaa High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Kauai High, 3-1, Wednesday evening in Kapaa.
“It was a good forward step, I would say. The message tonight was forward thinking,” said Kapaa head coach Evan Costa.
“The other thing, we always have a saying in our years in the program. This year’s saying, our motto, is ‘All in,’” he continued. “They were committed. From the start, like I shared earlier, it was really rough. But practices, they’ve been progressing. … They believe in what we do, and hung in there.”
After losing the match’s first set, the floodgates opened for Kapaa (1-0 KIF). The Warriors won the next three sets — 25-14, 24-17 and 25-20.
In the second set that Kapaa won by double-digits, Warriors junior outside hitter Keani Tolenoa recorded eight kills including the set-winner.
Tolenoa totaled 14 kills and four aces Wednesday.
“The coaches were just telling us, ‘Just keep getting the first three points. Just get the first three,’” Tolenoa said. “That really helped us a lot because we were just thinking one point at a time.”
Kauai High (0-1 KIF) edged Kapaa to win the night’s opening set, 25-23.
Tied at 23 apiece, the Warriors committed two errors to give the Red Raiders the set.
Kauai got three blocks in that set — one each from junior middle Rachel Curnan, sophomore opposite Haley Iha and junior middle Taegan Keep.
“They found the momentum and kind of ran with it, and then they forgot about it in the second (set),” said Kauai head coach Dorene Matias. “Some of my girls are young. The first match, I think they played really well. They just needed to remember, for the second match, what they did in the first match.”
“You know, this is normal for the first game of the season. There’s always going to be one winner and one loser. Unfortunately, we lost,” she added. “But we understand what needs to happen now. They talked about it, what they have to fix. They recognize what needs to happen.”
Matias also said fatigue was a factor as the match went on.
“The girls need to understand that at the varsity level, the games are longer. It’s really (about) how they pace themselves correctly,” she said. “Some of them kind of blew everything in that first game, and then I saw them kind of go downhill after that. But for the most part, for the girls that are young, they did really well. The senior girls did pretty good trying to hold the team together. We just got a lot of practice ahead of us.”
Kapaa was without senior middle blocker Paea Tafea, who injured her hand during the offseason. Costa said Tafea is expected to sit out a couple of weeks.
“She so wanted to come in. She was doing everything to come in, and we just said, ‘No. We need you for the bigger picture,’” Costa said of Tafea. “Hopefully, we can survive these two weeks, and I can breathe a little bit. We got Waimea on Saturday, and that is always tough.”
Warriors sophomore middle blocker Kaehukaiihaamainae Keala got 13 kills and an ace for Kapaa. Junior setter Rachel Pleas got 23 assists, two digs and an ace. Senior libero Michaela Costa got 14 digs and two aces.
Keep totaled five kills and two blocks for Kauai High. Sophomore outside hitter Maria Gokojvic got five kills and an ace. Senior setter Sierra Fernandez got eight assists. Junior libero Tia Takasaki got nine digs.
Kauai High won the junior varsity contest, 2-1. The JV Red Raiders rallied to win the second and third sets, 25-21 and 25-17. The JV Warriors won the opening set, 25-22.
In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball match, Waimea defeated Island School, 3-1. Waimea also won the JV match, 2-1. Exact scores were not available.
Waimea (1-0 KIF) will host Kapaa, and Island School (0-1 KIF) will host Kauai on Saturday. The JV matches will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.