LIHUE — Facing an uphill climb in the fifth set, the Menehune girls overcame the early deficit to win.
Waimea High School’s varsity girls volleyball team defeated Kauai High on Tuesday evening to start the season’s second round — 20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 26-24 and 15-12.
“Great game. Great match on both sides,” said Waimea head coach Chad Delanoza. “It does stink (that we) got to have a winner and we got to have a loser. They’re well coached. We had to find ways to win. We kind of did what we wanted to do in the first two sets, and then we got to a point where we struggled a little bit. It was all adrenaline, and all on their hard work on what they do daily. So, that’s we talked about in the locker room.”
Tied at 24-24 in the fourth set, Waimea (6-1 KIF, 1-0 2nd round) scored the next two points on a kill by Menehune junior outside hitter Keana Silva and a Red Raiders attacking error to win the set and extend the match.
Whatever positive momentum Waimea gained after winning the fourth, it was quickly erased as the team suddenly found itself down at the start of the fifth, 7-0.
“We were talking about doing our job to the best of our ability. We had mental lapses. We couldn’t pass,” Delanoza said. “We were searching for that one person to carry us. In this game, you cannot have one person to carry you. You got to play as a group, as a whole.
“That’s why it’s called volleyball. It’s a team event. It’s a six-on-six thing,” he continued. “I told them in the huddle that we need to do our job, and we need to do it a little better than what we’re doing now. We’re down seven, and we need to find the energy to stay (in it) and get back on our game, which is what they did.”
The Menehune broke the Red Raiders streak on a kill by junior outside hitter Gabrielle Peleras, which started a seven-point streak to level the score. The team then took a 10-9 lead on a point by Peleras.
Waimea won the final set, 15-12, to complete the comeback.
Delanoza said despite the team’s early struggles, it didn’t waiver from staying offensive-minded.
“We continued to attack, even when we got blocked within that first seven points,” Delanoza said. “We got the balls back returned to us. I said, ‘That’s OK. That’s fine. We still need to be aggressive.’ We cannot retract and start doing the things that we’re not accustomed to. We don’t want to uncomfortable doing things that we haven’t practiced.
“We’ve been practicing on attacking the ball. They stayed with that and they kind of grew to the fact that what they believe that what they’ve been doing is helping them, in that sense,” he continued. “They all had to pitch in. … But like I said, our passing struggled and our hitting just kind of tanked in the first seven points of the fifth game. But they stuck with it. And that, I give them a whole lot of credit.”
In that early 7-0 run by Kauai High (4-3 KIF, 0-1 2nd round), Red Raiders junior middle Rebecca Zenger scored three kills, two on blocks, and sophomore setter Vanessa Alcones scored two aces.
Red Raiders junior middle Hailey Iha scored a kill to bring Kauai to within one point late in the fifth, but the team couldn’t regain the lead.
Kauai High School varsity head coach Kehaulani Regidor wasn’t available for comment following Tuesday’s game.
Silva finished with seven kills, eight digs and an ace for Waimea. Peleras finished with 12 kills, two aces and three digs. Senior middle blocker Daneica Muraoka led the team with 16 kills including the game-winner in the second set.
Menehune junior opposite Leiko Yamauchi had a game-high 44 assists with four kills, three aces and nine digs. Sophomore libero Tehani Togioka had six digs and a kill.
Zenger finished with 11 kills for Kauai High. Alcones had 32 assists and three aces. Iha had a team-high 17 kills including the game-winner in the opening set.
Red Raiders junior outside hitter Maria Gojkovic had 10 kills and two digs. Junior right-side hitter Kahiau Kaiminaauao had eight kills. Sophomore libero Darien Kealoha-Albarado had a game-high 17 digs, an ace and an assist.
Waimea also won the junior varsity contest, winning all three sets, 25-11, 25-14 and 25-11.
In the night’s other varsity contest, Island School defeated Kapaa in five sets at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa — 25-19, 25-14, 20-25, 18-25 and 15-13. Island also won the JV contest, 2-1 — 25-16, 25-17 and 19-25.
Waimea will host Kapaa (1-6 KIF, 0-1 2nd round) and Kauai will play at Island School (3-4 KIF, 1-0 2nd round) on Friday. The JV matches will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.