KAPAA — The Menehune girls overcame long odds to take a big win on the road.
Waimea High School’s varsity girls volleyball team rallied after losing the first two sets to win in five sets over Kapaa on Tuesday evening.
“It’s never an easy thing to do, especially when you don’t play at home,” said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza. “Especially with all our struggles we’ve had early in the season, it’s so unexplainable.”
Waimea (3-2 KIF) won the final three sets — 25-22, 25-17 and 15-7. Menehune sophomore setter Gabrielle Peleras got the game-winning point in the forth set on a block to force a decisive fifth game.
After inching their way back into the match, the Menehune started the final game with an 13-3 run highlighted by three consecutive aces by sophomore outside hitter Daysha Nelmida-Rice.
A Kapaa service error gave Waimea the 15-7 win to complete the comeback.
“We gave it our best shot, and everything just started to work its way together,” Delanoza said. “I think they just played relentless after losing the two games.
“And we didn’t really get blown out in the games we lost. It was because of our mental errors, which we’ve been battling, but they put it together, put the run together,” he continued. “Tonight was a tough match, a great match. It could have gone either way, but just proud of their effort.”
Kapaa (4-1 KIF) won the first two games — 25-17 and 25-20 — and was in prime position to not only win at home, but to also win the season’s first round.
“One word comes to mind — selfish,” said Kapaa head coach Evan Costa. “It’s not over until it’s over. That was the proof tonight. I’ve always said it. … Waimea showed up and kept it off the floor.”
“Selfish play by our players. Not willing to step up and perform for the team, whether it be reverting back to old habits, (being) unsure, all the things that we address in practice,” he added. “A game like this, once we let them in, that was it. They never went away, and actually finished it off.”
Warriors junior outside hitter Keani Tolenoa lead Kapaa’s offense in the first set with four kills and an ace. She totaled 11 kills, an ace and two digs on Tuesday.
“We were supposed to finish it in the third. We were going back and forth, but little momentum swings — whether it be service errors or passing errors, all of the above,” Costa said. “Then we want someone else to step up rather than themselves wanting to step up. So, Waimea came. They stuck with their game plan, and came out ahead.”
Peleras totaled 10 kills, 11 assists, five digs and a block for Waimea. Nelmida-Nice had six aces, four kills and a block. Sophomore setter Leiko Yamauchi had five kills, nine assists and two aces. Senior middle blocker Shania Kahepu’u got 10 kills and two blocks.
Warriors sophomore middle blocker Kaehukaiihaamainae Keala had six kills, two blocks and an ace. Junior setter Rachel Pleas totaled 24 assists, a block, an ace and five digs. Senior middle blocker Paea Tafea had seven kills and three blocks. Senior outside hitter Chiara Fumagalli had six kills.
Kapaa won the junior varsity contest, 2-1. The JV Warriors won the first and third sets, 25-13 and 16. The JV Menehune won the second set, 25-24.
In other girls volleyball action in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation, Kauai High defeated Island School in straight sets at home on Tuesday — 25-13, 25-10 and 25-17.
The Red Raiders also won the JV contest, 3-0. Scores were not available.
Waimea will host Kauai High (3-2 KIF) on Friday to close the first round. The JV match will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Delanoza hopes this win at Kapaa will be a launching pad for his team moving forward.
“It’s always tough playing these three great high schools. Everyone’s always getting better,” he said. “As far as a turning point, I think it is a turning point for us. A different team showed up tonight, and I’m hoping they show up again on Friday and the rest of the season.”
Kapaa will play at Island School (0-5 KIF) on Friday. The JV match will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
A win at the Voyagers’ home gym would lock up the first round for Kapaa. If Kapaa loses, a playoff game will be played at a date and location to be determined.
“I, for one, it’s not over until it’s over. If there’s time on the clock, anything can happen,” Costa said of Friday’s match. “We just got to, I told the girls, just be ready for practice. Bring a new attitude.”