LIHUE — The Red Raiders got a crucial win at home to stay in the first round hunt.
Kauai High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Waimea, 3-1, Tuesday night in Lihue — 25-21, 25-27, 25-23 and 25-22.
“The season has just begun. This is our third game, and I think it’s going to be a really hard season,” said Kauai head coach Enoch A’ana.
After splitting the first two sets, Kauai High (2-1 KIF) found itself in a 18-12 deficit in the third set. The Red Raiders then went on a 10-4 run to tie the score at 22-22.
The Red Raiders then took the lead on a kill by senior middle blocker Tajh Mapuhi and went to win the set, 25-23.
“I don’t know what the score was, but I know it was by a lot. To come back and win that third set, that was the key,” A’ana said. “And then I told them, ‘You cannot lose the momentum. Got to go out in the fourth and start big.’”
After winning the third set, the Red Raiders started the fourth with a 10-3 lead.
Waimea clawed back to tie the score midway, 14-14, but could not take the lead. Kauai went on to win the fourth, 25-22, off a match-winning kill by senior outside hitter Tyron Libarios-Moses.
“That last set, we just tried to push as hard as we can not to make as much mistakes,” Libarios-Moses said. “We just played hard, and we got out of it.”
He added about the match-winning kill: “It was all right. Yeah, it was a good feeling.”
A’ana said while some players struggled early on, depth got the team through.
“I have to be honest. A couple of our key players were not on tonight. They were not having a great start,” he said. “So with the substitutions and letting them compose themselves and regain their confidence, maybe that was a booster. But I have to give props to the kids that stepped in and played well — to help the team get that confidence-booster.”
Waimea (1-2 KIF) won the second set, 27-25.
Tied at 25, the Menehune won the set off a kill by senior outside hitter Kaleohano Castaneda and an ace by junior outside hitter Jaime Mararagan.
“We just to come ready to play. We started off way too slow, continued slow and finished slow,” said Waimea head coach Alton Shimatsu. “No matter what sport you play, that’s not going to get you anywhere. We need to do a better job on focusing on volleyball when we come to game day.”
A’ana credited Waimea’s defensive prowess in the tough match.
“Waimea played a brilliant game tonight. They’re very defensive-savy,” he said. “We just could not put anything down. It would take us three or four times to get things past them.”
Shimatsu responded: “That’s what we have to do. I mean, if you look at the other schools, we’re not going to come in and overpower anybody. We’re like six inches shorter on average in the whole league. So, we got to play to our strengths, Digging and passing is our biggest option if we want to come through and win. Proud of them for playing defense. We just need to work on finishing up.”
Libarios-Moses had 10 kills, two aces and a dig for Kauai High. Mapuhi had nine kills and two aces.
Red Raiders senior middle blocker Noah Marshall led the team with 15 kills, including the set-winner in the first. Senior setter Jhay-Carl Miguel had a game-high 33 assists with three aces and two kills.
Castaneda had six kills and five digs for Waimea. Mararagan had eight assists, a kill and an ace.
Menehune senior outside hitter Carl Mecham totaled 10 kills, 15 assists and four digs. Junior middle blocker Kaimi Lau San-Agustin also had 10 kills.
In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation varsity match, Kapaa defeated Island School at home in straight sets — 25-7, 25-17 and 25-16.
The Warriors also won the junior varsity matchup — 25-17, 25-19 and 25-9.
Kauai High will host Kapaa (3-0 KIF) on Friday. The JV match will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Waimea will play at Island School (0-3) at 6 p.m. Friday.