PUHI — After succumbing to a five-set loss at home on Tuesday, the Warrior girls recovered to win on the road and clinch the first round of the season.
Kapaa High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Island School in straight sets Friday evening.
“At least we got that out of the way. At least we can put that in the pocket,” said Kapaa head coach Evan Costa. “We’ll definitely take it. It’s hard to accomplish that. You see in the season, it goes back-and-forth with these teams.”
Kapaa (5-1 KIF) won those three sets — 25-21, 25-14 and 25-11.
“It’s pretty big, but we don’t look past anything but the next game,” said Warriors senior middle blocker Paea Tafea about winning the round. “Just got to keep working through it. We always got a lot of work to do.”
Island School (0-6 KIF) had a shot at winning the first round. Two consecutive aces by Voyagers senior outside hitter Anne Cushnie and a Warriors error got Island School to a 22-20 deficit.
“We kicked it up a notch. We wanted it. We wanted to win it really, really bad. We knew we could do it,” Voyagers freshman outside hitter Waileia Edwards said of that first set.
She added: “I’m proud of my team, honestly. We did really good. We always fight. We tried really hard. We’re a good team. We’re like sisters. We always work together.”
Tafea said the team played with nervous energy in the first set, and the result was the close score.
“In the first set, we were too focused about making mistakes — too worried about making mistakes,” she said. “We were playing not to lose. When we got the second set, I stopped before we got on the court and told the girls, ‘They’re not going to give it to us. No team is going to give it to us. We just got to go out there and work. We got to play to win.’
“We got to have the mindset to win, and to kill every ball,” Tafea continued. “If we lose a point, then the next point is ours. We have to have that mindset to play strong, get through it and work as one — as a team.”
After the early scare, Kapaa went on to win the next two sets by double digits.
Trailing 6-5 early in the third set, Kapaa went on to score nine unanswered points — started by two consecutive kills by Warriors junior middle blocker Aulani Kaui.
Kaui totaled four kills, all in the third set.
“They got in their rhythm. In a timeout, I said it was good to see them finally waking up,” Costa said. “I told them I appreciated them getting back in focus on the task at hand.”
Despite coming out on the losing end, Island School head coach Brad Sato said this was the team’s best effort so far this season.
“They did good. They’re growing from (the first game) until now,” Sato said. “They cutting down on our errors. We’re getting better, and putting ourselves in the right positions. … I think it’s a mentality thing. They came out, and they told themselves that they’re going to give it all they got. And we did. We were able to catch Kapaa off-guard on some plays.”
Tafea was Kapaa’s leading scorer with 14 kills, a block and an ace. Senior outside hitter Jazmin Kaleiohi totaled five kills and an ace. Junior setter Rachel Pleas got 25 assists and a block. Senior libero Micaela Costa got seven digs and three aces, including which that was the game-winner in the second set.
Edwards got three kills and two digs for Island School. Cushnie got three kills, two aces and six digs. Junior libero Lola Temme got two aces, a kill and three digs. Junior setter Julia Massaro got six assists.
Kapaa also won the junior varsity match, winning all three sets — 25-9, 25-12 and 25-11.
In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball match, Kauai High defeated Waimea, 3-1. The Menehune won the opening set, 25-23. Red Raiders won the following three — 25-20, 25-17 and 25-21.
Kauai High also won the JV match at Waimea — 25-23, 25-11 and 25-18.
The season will resume Sept. 27. Kauai High (4-2 KIF) will host Kapaa to start the season’s second round, and Island School will host Waimea (3-3 KIF).
The JV matches will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.