WAIMEA — The Warriors can now punch their ticket for states.
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Waimea High in straight sets Tuesday evening at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea — 25-19, 25-19 and 25-22.
With Tuesday’s result, Kapaa (11-0 KIF, 5-0 2nd round) have won both of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season’s rounds to win back-to-back league championships.
“To come out 11-0 so far, the season’s not done yet, but to be able to accomplish (winning KIF) is great,” said Kapaa head coach Kapule Kaona. “It’s a good feeling to have just dropped two sets all season long. There’s something to be said about that. Credit to the boys for their hard work and making that happen. But obviously, it’s back in the gym. We’re going to enjoy the moment and enjoy the evening, and it’s back to work tomorrow and focusing on that last game.”
Warriors senior middle Saxsen Shiira said this is the first time he’s won two consecutive titles. He also played for the Warriors varsity boys basketball team, with which he won KIF in the 2015-16 season.
“It feels great. Having another season, back-to-back KIF, I’ve never repeated in any KIF sports — even in basketball,” Shiira said.
Kapaa throughout the match did not relinquish a lead.
Down three points late in the third set, Waimea (5-6 KIF, 3-2 2nd round) cut Kapaa’s lead to one.
An ace by Menehune senior outside hitter Carl Mecham brought Waimea to a 22-21 deficit.
“We did everything right. We just came up a little short,” said Waimea head coach Alton Shimatsu. “I got nothing bad to say about tonight. Kapaa’s good, and I wish them luck at the state tournament.”
The Warriors, though, would go on to win the third. A Menehune attacking error concluded the third set for the 25-22 finish to clinch Kapaa the sweep and league title.
“That’s hard to do with the target on your back all season long, and we knew that the target was going to be on our back,” Kaona said of being unbeaten thus far. “I think the boys rose to the occasion on that.
“But what our focus has been and why we were able to come in every single game and be able to play is that our practices are really, really tough,” he continued. “We push them harder in practice. So when it comes to game time, it’s almost automatic for them.”
Shiira totaled 13 kills for Kapaa, including the set-winner in the second set.
Warriors senior outside hitter Carson Schmick led the team offensively with 20 kills and two digs. Warriors senior setter Jayson Hawthorne got 37 assists and three kills.
Mecham totaled five kills, eight assists, three digs and an ace for Waimea. Menehune senior outside hitter Kaleohano Castaneda got nine kills, five digs and two aces.
Menehune sophomore setter Shayne Simbre-Medeiros got 15 assists and one kill. Sophomore libero Mark Kali-Bagaoisan got four digs.
Tuesday was Waimea’s senior night. Mecham and Castaneda, the team’s only two seniors, were recognized following the match.
“They’ve been with me since I started coaching. They’re two special guys,” Shimatsu said. “They took a lot from me from the beginning. I wish them all the best. They’ll always have a special place with me. These guys, they worked hard every day.
“We had a really young team. I wish they had more experience on their end, but they taught these young guys a lot and we put up a fight all the time,” he continued.
In the night’s other varsity contest, Kauai High defeated Island School in straight sets at the Wilcox Gym in Puhi — 25-17, 25-18 and 25-20.
Island School won the junior varsity contest over Kauai — 25-21, 17-25 and 25-21.
Kapaa will host Island School (0-11 KIF, 0-5 2nd round) on Friday. The JV match will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity match will follow.
If Kapaa wins, the Warriors would finish undefeated in back-to-back KIF seasons.
“This team has a lot of experience, for one. As soon as we came back from states last year, we came in third and we weren’t really satisfied with that at all,” Shiira said. “When we came back, the boys were going to beach volleyball and playing in as much open gyms as possible. So basically, we stayed with volleyball pretty much the whole time until now.”
Kauai High (6-5 KIF, 2-3 2nd round) will host Waimea on Friday. An all-Kauai JV exhibition match will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity contest between the Red Raiders and Menehune will follow.
Waimea defeated Kauai High at home last Tuesday, 3-1.
“Last week Tuesday, that was a big win for us,” Shimatsu said. “That was a big stepping stone for our young team. If we can come back and do that again on Friday, that would (give us) a lot of confidence, and it would be a good way to send off my seniors.”