KAPAA — The Warriors have clinched the first round of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Waimea in straight sets — 25-11, 25-18 and 25-18 — to also remain unbeaten through five matches.
“Yes, it’s good to win the round already. The round’s not finished yet,” said Kapaa head coach Kapule Kaona. “Never was the talk about, ‘If we win tonight, (winning the round) was on our mind.’ We just wanted to take care of business against Waimea.”
“It’s good to be able to clinch the round, but there’s still a lot more volleyball, looking at ourselves and what we need to improve on,” he added. “Yes, it’s a victory but there’s still a lot more that we need to work on moving forward.”
Kapaa (5-0 KIF) got off to a fast start to win the night’s first set by double digits. Warriors senior middle Saxsen Shiira led the team offensively with seven kills in the set.
Momentum stayed on Kapaa’s side throughout as the Warriors closed the sweep at home with a match-winning kill by senior outside hitter Kurt Napoleon.
“I think the way we started off was because, we believe everyone on our team has a role no matter if you’re playing or not,” Napoleon said. “Even if you’re on the bench, you have a role supporting your teammates. Even us on the court, we support each other on the court. If it wasn’t for our passing, setting, hitting and everything coming together, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
He added about winning the round: “I think clinching the first round is something, in my mind, just relaxes us a little bit more. It gets us a little more comfortable. But at the same time, we still got to keep up the intensity and energy that we bring to every game because the job is not done yet.”
With being defending KIF champions and being unbeaten so far this season, Kaona believes the team has established itself as tops in the league but expects tough matches looking ahead.
“That’s the idea. That’s the mentality that we want to come into every game with — that we’re the team to beat,” he said. “Obviously, we got the target on our back. Being defending league champs, everybody is going to target you. So, it’s hard to stay on top of the game when everybody is battling. That’s the hard thing — staying on top.”
Waimea (2-3 KIF) briefly had a lead early in the final set, but Kapaa soon after took back the lead and held it through the finish.
Facing a 21-14 deficit in the third, Waimea made up some ground to cut Kapaa’s lead to four. Menehune junior outside hitter Bronson Kailikini had back-to-back kills to spark the short rally.
“Kapaa’s a very good team. They have a lot of experience, and it shows tonight,” said Waimea head coach Alton Shimatsu. “It’s always a task to play with young boys against an experienced team. They’re experience really came through, and they did really well.”
Shimatsu hopes with more time invested during practice, the team can put it together and compete for the season’s second round.
“I think it showed the last time we played Kapaa, that our defense is what’s going to get us through,” he said. “We just got to keep putting in work in the gym. There’s no other way that we can try to outmatch these guys. We just plan on heading back to the gym and getting more touches and more reps — just getting our experience.”
Shiira and Napoleon both had 13 kills for Kapaa. Senior outside hitter Carson Schmick had 11 kills and an ace. Senior setter Jayson Hawthorne had a game-high 36 assists and a kill. Senior middle Ka’ohu Gutierrez-Kelly had four kills and four aces.
Menehune senior outside hitter Carl Mecham had 10 kills, three digs and two assists for Waimea. Junior outside hitter Regis Lomongo had two kills, five assists and four digs.
In the night’s other KIF varsity contest, Kauai High defeated Island School in straight sets at home — 25-22, 25-15 and 25-21.
Kapaa will play at Island School (0-5 KIF) on Friday to conclude the season’s first round. The junior varsity match will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Waimea will host Kauai High (3-2 KIF) at 6 p.m. Friday.