Warriors inch closer to league title

WAIMEA — The Warrior girls held on to win a crucial match on the road and is now one win away from clinching a second-consecutive league title.

Kapaa High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Waimea, 3-2, Tuesday evening at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea.

“It was a back-and-forth battle the whole game,” said Kapaa head coach Evan Costa. “Like I’ve always said, ‘When you come to Waimea, this is where you’ll get tested.’ You got to get prepared, and Waimea was tough tonight. They weren’t going to lay down.”

“Even after (winning) the first two sets, I told my girls that it’s far from over,” he continued. “Waimea came back. Now, it’s like, ‘OK, work. Work harder than we’ve ever worked.’”

Kapaa (9-2 KIF, 4-1 2nd round) won the decisive fifth set, 15-11.

The Warriors got out to a 4-point lead before Waimea called its first timeout of the set. Kapaa sustained its lead through the end. Senior outside hitter Chiara Fumagalli got the match-winning kill.

“We took the first two sets really good. And then the last three sets, our mental game got to us,” Fumagalli said. “But in the fifth set, we knew we needed it. We knew we wanted it, and how hard we worked for it. We pushed each other. Even though we made mistakes, we still pushed each other and wanted to get there first — wanted to get to 15 first. We didn’t play our best game, but we did pull through.”

Kapaa can clinch the Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship with a win on Friday at home against Island School.

“We’re back on the clock the same time. We’re going to go hard,” Costa said. “I’m not going to fool around. It’s not over until it’s over. And that’s the message we told the girls. … We’re going to come in and do our business. It’s not finished yet.”

Kapaa won the opening two sets, 25-17 and 25-20. Warriors senior middle blocker Paea Tafea sealed the second set with a block.

Waimea (6-5 KIF, 3-2 2nd round) then turned the tide to win the third and fourth sets, 25-16 and 25-19.

Trailing 12-8 in the third set, Waimea went on a 12-1 run to shoot past Kapaa. Menehune sophomore outside hitter Daysha Nelmida-Rice sealed the set for Waimea with three-consecutive aces.

“We’ve been trying to work through the peaks and valleys throughout the season — being streaky and working through some good and bad,” said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza. “But overall, their effort was tremendous. Being down 2-0 at home is not a good beginning, but they stuck together and played until the end.”

Tuesday was Waimea’s Senior Night. Four Menehune seniors were recognized following the match — setter Leiani Pimental, libero Leeanna Tamashiro, outside hitter Maria Foisaga and middle blocker Shania Kahepuu.

“Each one of them have done a tremendous job over the past several years,” Delanoza said. “Some of them were role players. Some were starters. Some were starters that became role players. Some of them stepped in and were asked to do different things.

Fumagalli had eight kills for Kapaa. Junior outside hitter Keani Tolenoa had 12 kills, 10 digs and an ace. Senior middle blocker Paea Tafea had seven kills, four blocks and four aces. Junior setter Rachel Pleas had 29 assists, a kill and an ace. Junior defensive specialist Kailee Bush had seven digs.

Nelmida-Rice had 11 kills and three aces for Waimea. Kahepuu totaled nine kills and a block. Foisaga had four kills and six digs. Sophomore setter Gabrielle Peleras had 21 assists, eight kills and a block.

Waimea won the junior varsity match, 2-1 — winning the second and third sets, 25-22 and 26-24. Kapaa won the opening set, 25-19.

In the night’s other KIF varsity girls volleyball match, Kauai High defeated Island School over five sets — 24-26, 25-18, 26-28, 25-16 and 15-12.

Kapaa will host Island School (0-11 KIF, 0-5 2nd round) and Waimea will play at Kauai High (7-4 KIF, 3-2 2nd round) on Friday to conclude the KIF girls volleyball regular season. The JV games will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity games will follow.

Should Kapaa lose, the lady Warriors would play the winner of the Kauai-Waimea game in a second round playoff match at a date and location to be determined.

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