WAIMEA — Menehune libero Ayline Bravo had an audience Tuesday when Waimea High School varsity girls volleyball took the Island School team in three sets — 25-5, 25-19 and 25-15 — before a sparse audience at the Clem Gomes Gym.
“Ayline is our Rotary Exchange student from Chile,” said West Kauai Rotarian Dave Walker who wore his commemorative Rotary shirt for the occasion. “She said she played some volleyball in Chile, and tonight we got to watch her play.”
Bravo took the place of Tehani Togioka and Jas Henrickson who were both sidelined, filling the libero spot for all three sets.
“We’re battling injuries and trying to adjust with the people we have,” said Waimea coach Chad Delanoza, who himself returned to the court following a medically-influenced absence from last Friday’s matches. “Island School is also battling injuries, but played a great match.”
The Voyagers were without the services of Ashley Mecham who was injured during Island School’s match against Kauai High School Saturday night. Tuesday night, she was present but hobbled by crutches.
“This was a big loss for us,” said Island School coach Gary Maguire. “I think this is it for her season because her recovery is three to four weeks out, and the season is just one more week. But the loss is also good for our younger players as we made some adjustments.”
Waimea rolled through the first set on strong service strings from Raelee Samio who opened with back-to-back aces in building an early 4-0 go-ahead. More service strings came from Gabrielle Pelaris who closed the set with seven unanswered points, punctuated with aces from Daysha Nelmida Rice.
“Waimea is a great team,” Maguire said. “They caught the girls off-guard on that first set. They settled down and gave the Menehune a game.”
Some of the Island School adjustments moved Waileia Edwards from setting to outside hitting where she came up the middle to pull the Voyagers to within a digit, 8-9 in the second set which started when Waimea’s Leiko Yamauchi aced the opening ball.
Island School’s June Hsu answered with an ace of her own early in the set, and after battling ties throughout, Island School’s Izzy Ancharski put the Voyagers up by one 15-14 with back-to-back kills. Waimea’s Daneica Muraoka answered up the middle to deadlock the match 16-16 before Waimea pulled ahead on a Nelmida Rice service string that included an ace. Waimea sealed the second set on a Raelee Samio slam up the middle.
“The Voyagers caught fire in the second and third sets,” Delanoza said. “They tried some adjustments and it worked. This was a great game.”
Island School picked up an early lead behind Edwards’ hits in the final set before Nelmida Rice started a service string of seven unanswered points that included another ace.
The Voyagers answered with Ancharski and Mackenze Hubbard hitting to deadlock the match, 9-9. The see-saw continued until Waimea pulled ahead on hits by Peleras who sealed the deal at 25-15.
Earlier, the junior varsity Menehune took all three sets — 25-16, 25-14, and 25-23 — to remain undefeated with three more games ahead of them.
Waimea next hosts Kauai on Friday at the Clem Gomes Gym with the junior varsity match starting at 5 p.m. followed by the varsity game starting no earlier than 6:30 p.m.
Island School hosts Kapaa at the Wilcox Gymnasium with the same time schedule.
“We have two days to prepare for Kauai,” Delanoza said. “They and Kapaa are both physical teams. We need to work on little things and adjustments to make it function for us. We don’t have the numbers they do. We can only work on the little things.”