LIHUE — Are you tired? Are you scared?
That’s what Kauai High School coach Dorene Matias asked her girls Saturday night in the locker room following the Red Raiders’ heartbreaking three-set drop to Kapaa High School at the Red Raider gym.
“I asked the girls on the bench,” Matias said. “They were the ones who told me, ‘They look tired. They look scared.’ If my girls can see that, what do the fans see? We have a lot of work to do. It’s back to practice Monday. We all have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Kauai High School, facing a critical match to stay alive in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball first round, dropped to Kapaa in straight sets, 11-25, 11-25, 23-25 before a good home crowd that overflowed the bleachers and took to seating on the stage.
Earlier in the evening, the Kauai junior varsity dropped its opening set, 10-25 to the Kapaa JV wahine, but rebounded for 25-19 and 27-25 wins. No scores were available from the games at the Wilcox Gymnasium at Island School where the Voyagers hosted the Waimea High School Menehune.
“They played us well,” said Kapaa High School coach Evan Costa. “The girls told me, ‘They played us well.’ I like that because they are starting to think about the game of volleyball — the mental aspects of playing the game.”
Kapaa set the stage early in the opening set when Rachel Pleas marked an ace for the 3-0 lead that came with Paea Tafea hitting the first digit and a Kauai hitting error kept Pleas in the service block. The Warrior wahine forced more Kauai miscues before a Chiara Fumagalli pound from the opposite side saw Kapaa break the 8-1 lead on a service error.
Costa said those mental mistakes kept him frustrated, watching the ladies string together bunches of points only to break the rhythm on basic mistakes.
Micaela Costa served up an ace for the 21-7 lead before Paea cranked another opposite side bang for the 23-11 lead, the Warriors pushing Kauai to back-to-back errors for the win.
Kapaa roared to a 13-6 lead in the second set behind the strong serving of Keani Tolenoa who marked two aces in the string of points. She got support from Tafea who mixed up the hits, including a dink for the 9-6 reading, and support from Kahelelani Maka-Adric whose middle antics pushed the scoreboard to a 13-6 bulge.
The results did not indicate the strong challenge put on by Kauai where a long rally for the set’s opening point went back and forth to the fans’ delight, before Kapaa forced a Kauai passing miscue on a middle slam from Kaehukaiihaamainae Keala.
Kauai battled back and forced Kapaa errors for the 4-3 go-ahead before a hit from Tolenoa on the opposite side and an ace deadlocked the match, 6-6. From there, two straight hitting errors from the Red Raider court coupled with hitting from Tafea and Tolenoa pushed Kapaa ahead 13-6.
The Red Raiders pushed the Warriors into errorland in the final set, taking a 9-6 edge. Kapaa rebounded behind Pleas’ service who strung up five points for an 18-15 advantage only to have Kauai deadlock the match behind a Kapaa hitting error.
Kauai’s Jolea Ki‘ilau-Pillos’s bang pulled Kauai into a 20-20 deadlock and a pair of Kapaa miscues pushed the lead to 23-21, before hits from Tolenoa and Tafea moved Kapaa up for the Tolenoa ace that sealed the night.
“The girls did their roles well,” Costa said. “They accepted the roles they needed to fill and played well. But we’re not worrying about where we are in the round. We have another game Tuesday. It’s Waimea next, and they’re not happy.”
Kapaa will host Waimea Tuesday with the junior varsity match serving up at 5 p.m. followed by the varsity match getting under way no earlier than 6:30 p.m. at the Bernice Hundley Gym.
Kauai will host Island School at the Kauai High School gym with the JV match starting at 5 p.m. and the varsity match serving up no earlier than 6:30 p.m.