KAPAA — The Kapaa boys volleyball team struggled with a slow start before getting past Waimea in straight sets —25-22, 28-26, and 25-14, Friday night at the Bernice Hundley Gym.
“We got off to a real slow start,” said Kapaa coach Kapule Kaona. “We were sluggish through the first two sets. By the third set, the boys started to find the grove, and we were OK.”
Despite errors and lackluster play where middle Saxsen Shiira was limited in touches giving responsibility to Ka‘ohu Gutierrez-Kelley, Kapaa escaped 25-22 behind a Waimea service error.
“I have to give credit to Waimea,” Kaona said. “They came to play. They were confident and believed in themselves. They had a great game. You can’t tell how good the game was just by looking at the scores.”
Waimea opened the first set with Carl Mecham sitting on the bench until the 9th point, relying on Kaleohano Castaneda, Dino “DJ” Pabre, and Bronson Kailikini to hit the balls set by Shayne Simbre-Medeiros.
“That was part of the game plan,” said Waimea coach Alton Shimatsu. “The boys played without Carl.”
The leave of absence only served to inspire Mecham who entered the game and dove into the audience on both sides of the Bernice Hundley on some save attempts. He also pounded the ball, peppered with some sets to aid Simbre-Medeiros and keep the Warriors on their toes.
The lead in the second set see-sawed between the benches before Kapaa built a 21-15 lead.
Castaneda took the service block for three unanswered points and a forced Kapaa error knotted the contest, 20-20 before a Waimea hitting error gave Kapaa a 23-21 lead only to have Mecham slam the outside followed by a Kapaa passing error knotting the set at 23-all.
A Kurt Napoleon hit was answered by Mecham for the 24-24 deadlock before the Kapaa middle erred to give Waimea the advantage. The bulge was short-lived as the Menehune erred in the service block.
Carson Schmick found the line on a hard hit for the Kapaa advantaage only to have the Warriors drop on a service error. Schmick encored for another hit for the 27-26 go-ahead and a Menehune hitting error sealed the deal.
The stagnant play continued into the third set before Kapaa’s Jayson Hawthorne, in the service block, produced a string of five unanswered points for the 17-11 go-ahead. A Kapaa error was answered by a Waimea error before Saxsen Shiira went up the middle for the 18-12 go-ahead.
Justin Paleka, playing for Pomai Rabago-Kaiwi, entered the service block and put together six unanswered points, including the night’s only ace, before Schmick sealed the night on a bang.
“We have no break,” Kaona said. “Tuesday we’re at Island School, and Friday we host Kauai at home. We just need to get past this weekend’s prom.”
Shimatsu said the team needs to learn to finish before hosting Kauai High School on Tuesday.
“The team needs to learn to finish,” he said. “We errored on critical points. We have to learn not to panic, keep things in control.”