Red Raiders stay in 1st round hunt

LIHUE — The Red Raider girls won a crucial home game to stay in contention for the season’s first round.

Kauai High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Waimea in straight sets Wednesday evening.

“I didn’t expect it to go in three sets, but I knew the girls were ready tonight,” said Kauai head coach Dorene Matias. “We’re both young teams. So, I think we both played well. The girls played really hard tonight. They did.”

Kauai High (2-1 KIF) started the match by edging Waimea in the opening set, 25-22. Red Raiders junior middle Rachel Curnan got the set-winning kill.

Matias said she noticed early on that her team was playing especially well.

“Their execution was a bit better tonight. They had less mistakes, and that’s what we kind of geared this game for — less mistakes on their serves and passing,” she said. “It’s still early in the season, yeah? So, let’s see if they can keep this up.”

The Red Raiders then started the next set with a 7-0 run and eventually took a double-digit lead en route to winning it, 25-14.

In that set, Kauai won a particularly long rally to keep the momentum. Sophomore outside hitter Maria Gojkovic scored the point, with sophomore setter Emily Morden getting the assist.

“It was a really long point. I had a couple of hits. … It was tiring,” Gojkovic said of the point. “I was so proud because it was really hard. That point, it was like all the work paid off. It was nice.”

Kauai then won the third set, 25-16, to complete the sweep.

“All I know is that we need to get back to work tomorrow, and we need to work hard, get ready and prepare for Kapaa,” Matias said.

Unforced errors undid the Menehune girls’ efforts, said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza.

“It’s been that kind of a season for us early,” he said. “I’m not a person to make excuses for these girls. I think they realize what they need to do and what’s going on. Tonight, we were just outplayed. … The question is, ‘What do we have in store for the rest of the season?’ That’s basically what we told them inside the locker room.”

“Every game you lose is always a lesson. But I think this one is a bit tougher to manage only because they gave themselves opportunities and chances, and they couldn’t manage to grab hold of it, grab onto it and go,” he added. “At the end, I’m still proud of them for what they did and for the effort they put in.”

Waimea (1-2 KIF) started the third set with a 5-o run, capped off with an ace by sophomore setter Leiko Yamauchi before Kauai High called for a timeout.

The Red Raiders took an 8-7 lead with a block from sophomore middle Rebecca Zenger. Kauai then started to distance itself soon after and took a 23-16 lead with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Jolea Kiilau-Pilos.

A pair of Waimea errors following Kiilau-Pilos’ point awarded the Red Raiders the set.

“In the third game, we kind of put it on them more than anything,” Delanoza said. “At that point, if you feel defeated, you’re going to show it and you’re going to play like it. During our timeouts, we just wanted to regroup, go back to the fundamentals and stick together through those times.

“These are not great times for them to experience, but I’d rather they experience it now and that they experience it as a group,” he continued. “These are the only people that’s going to fix it. These are the only people that’s going to get through it together.”

Gojkovic had four kills and a block for Kauai High. Curnan had three kills, a block and a dig. Morden had seven assists and two digs. Zenger had two kills, two blocks and an ace. Kiilau-Pilos had two kills, two aces and three digs.

Yamauchi had seven assists, three kills and an ace for Waimea. Senior middle blocker Shania Kahepuu totaled six kills, a block and an ace. Senior outside hitter Maria Foisaga had five kills, six digs and an ace. Sophomore setter Gabrielle Peleras had six assists, two kills and an ace.

Kauai also won the junior varsity contest, winning all three sets — 25-17, 25-9 and 25-11.

Kauai High will next host Kapaa, and Waimea will play at Island School on Saturday. The JV matches will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.

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