Waimea rallies to win KIF opener

WAIMEA — The Menehune girls worked through a two-set deficit to win the regular season opener Wednesday.

Waimea High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Kauai High, 3-2, at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea — 23-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-8 and 15-9.

“I was just trying to find the words to say in the locker room,” Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza said. “To say the right things, sometimes it’s best to say nothing on a victory like this because it was more for them than it was for us. They had their moments. They showed signs of brilliance at times, and they showed that they can play over the hump.

“They plagued themselves in the first two matches. In the third match, I told them, ‘I don’t know who’s this team that showed up.’ They wear the school colors, but it just seemed a totally different team. A total different bunch of girls that came to play the third, fourth and fifth match,” he continued. “I just told them I was proud of them for what they did tonight. I wasn’t an easy task. A five-game match from behind is never easy. And it could have been anybody’s match. We could have gone out of here, 3-0. But I know it’s going to be kind of like that pretty much the whole season.”

After surrendering the first two sets, Waimea (1-0 KIF) rallied. Into the third set, the Menehune took an 11-10 lead on a Red Raiders attacking error.

Waimea’s lead grew to as big as six before winning the set on a point scored by junior outside hitter Daysha Nelmida-Rice to extend the match.

The Menehune’s momentum grew as the team won the fourth set by a wide margin. Menehune junior outside hitter Gabrielle Peleras scored six kills in the set.

In the final set, Menehune senior middle blocker Daneica Muraoka and junior outside hitter Keana Silva each got three kills and Nelmida-Rice notched back-to-back aces to lead Waimea to the 15-9 win to clinch the home opener.

“I don’t think it was one thing. It was a combination of everybody had to be on the same page more than it was one single event,” Delanoza said of coming from behind. “All the things that they weren’t doing in the first and second game, they started to do it in the third. Then it carried over into the fourth, and then it carried over into the fifth.”

Kauai High (0-1 KIF) had the hot start early on and was in position for a win in straight sets.

In the first two sets, the Red Raiders got an early sizable lead. Waimea would cut into the deficits midway through, but Kauai would maintain its advantage.

Kauai head coach Kehaulani Regidor said the first two sets went well for her team because of “communication and confidence.

“A good experience, a learning experience, to know what we have to work on for the next games,” she said.

Regidor added despite the loss, she hopes it serves as a lesson to not take leads for granted.

“I think they got too comfortable, and maybe playing scared a little bit. But, I mean, pressure. Yeah, that’s it,” she said. “(They have to) play hard all the way.”

Nelmida-Rice totaled 13 kills including the game-winner in the third set, five aces and four digs. Peleras recorded 13 kills and an ace.

Menehune junior opposite Leiko Yamauchi got a game-high 25 assists, three kills and two aces. Sophomore libero Tehani Togioka got 11 digs and an ace for Waimea.

Red Raiders junior outside hitter Jolea Pillos totaled seven kills, two ace and two digs. Junior middle Rebecca Zenger got seven kills, two aces and four digs.

Sophomore setter Vanessa Alcones got 14 assists, an ace and four digs for Kauai High. Sophomore libero Darien Kealoha-Albarado got five digs and an ace.

In the junior varsity match, Waimea won all three sets versus Kauai — 25-14, 25-20 and 25-17.

In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation varsity girls volleyball match, Kapaa High School defeated Island School in Puhi in straight sets — 25-18, 25-20 and 25-17. Island School won the JV contest — 25-13, 25-13 and 25-21.

Waimea will play at Kapaa, and Island School will play at Kauai High on Saturday. The JV matches will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.

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