KAPAA — The Kapaa High School girls volleyball team mixed it up and kept the game interesting Friday night against Island School at the Bernice Hundley Gym which was filled with spectators, many of whom were anxious to greet the six seniors on the team.
In addition to Senior Night, at stake was the Kauai Interscholastic Federation Round 2 and title.
Kapaa needed to win to clinch the title after earlier claiming the Round 1 title.
The Warriors did just that, claiming the title following a three-set win over the Voyagers, 25-18, 15-18, and 25-13. Earlier, the junior varsity Warriors celebrated the end of the season with a 3-0 win over the JV Voyagers, 25-21, 25-16 and 25-15.
“I feel much better now,” said Kapaa Coach Evan Costa after the win. “Now I can breathe, and we can celebrate Senior Night. Our goal was to finish and then enjoy Senior Night.”
Over at Kauai High School, Waimea High School took care of business in four sets, 25-22, 19-25, 25-18 and 28-26. The Kauai JV girls finished its season with a three-set win, 25-22, 25-16 and 25-15.
The Waimea victory was pivotal for the Menehune because had the Voyagers defeated the Warriors, the Menehune win would have forced a playoff.
That playoff possibility disappeared when Kapaa jumped out to an early start, 9-1, behind eight unanswered points from Rachel Pleas in the service block.
The Warriors maintained the lead through the first set, Pleas’ string of serves being broken by Island School’s Wailea Edwards’ bang from the opposite side for the 9-4 Kapaa lead. A Kapaa hitting error pulled the Voyagers to within four points, 16-12, before Kapaa sealed the first set on a Voyager service error.
“The girls had a slow start,” Costa said. “You could see it — they weren’t peppy. But they settled down during the second set and got into their rhythm.”
Ashley Mecham pulled Island School to a 4-0 lead after blocking a Kaehukaiihaamainae Keala’s shot, and Kapaa put itself on the board on a Chiara Fumagalli hit from the opposite side. Kapaa chased through most of the set, knotting the set 14-14 behind a Voyager hitting error.
But Island School wouldn’t relent, knotting the set 15-15 on a Mecham push. A Warrior block and another Fumagalli hit from the opposite side was answered by a Kapaa passing error to knot the set 18-18 before Fumagalli’s hit pulled Kapaa ahead, and an ace from Michaela Costa kept Kapaa in front. A pair of hits from Keani Tolenoa, an ace from Lia Topesky, and a bang up the middle from Paea Tafea set the stage for the eruption of cheer at 23-18.
Kainani Moniz, sidelined for most of the second round by an injury, was substituted into the service block under a blanket of fan cheers. She served up an ace to wrap up the set, 25-18.
“Island School came to play,” Costa said. “They had heavy hitters in Ashley Mecham and Wailea Edwards. They’re well coached, and we made substitutions after they put us in passing trouble. They took Kauai in five Tuesday night. I had planned to put in the girls who don’t have that much playing time. But that wasn’t a guarantee. We had to take care of business.”
Following a 2-1 third set deficit on Kapaa hitting errors, Michaela Costa served up eight unanswered points, including four aces to give the Warriors a 10-2 lead. The substitutes came in, includingTamare Daligcon-Pomaikai, Kahelelani Maka-Adric and Jazmin Kaleiohi. Following a 20-11 lead behind a Tafea block up the middle, the crowd, led by the Warrior JV girls, erupted when Keegan Kessler was sent in to replace Pleas. Tafea continued to hammer the middle for a 23-13 lead before a pair of Voyager errors ended the match, 25-13.
“The girls played their hearts out,” said Brad Sato, the Island School coach. “We got beat by a very veteran team. Kapaa played well. They never let the ruts get to them. Our girls are still young — only two seniors, Salisa Pegeder and Anne Cushnie. But they showed that they can win.”
With the KIF title, Kapaa earns the right to advance to the New City Nissan Hawaii High School Athletic Association, Division II girls volleyball state championships which will be held on Oahu, Oct. 26-29.