LIHUE — The Waimea High School girls pushed away opening night jitters and finished with a 3-1 win — 25-23, 19-25, 25-20 and 25-17 — over Kauai High School on Wednesday night at the Red Raider gym that was crowded with fans from both sides.
The junior varsity Menehune brought the nearly full house to thunderous cheer from both sides as it wrapped up a 2-1 win, 25-12, 18-25 and 27-25, over the JV Raider ladies.
“This is only the first game,” said Waimea coach Chad Delanoza. “We didn’t know what to expect because Kauai is always a well-coached team, and we know they can play hard. We still need to work on our ups and downs because there are 11 more games ahead of us, and we know the teams will only get better.”
Scores from the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa where the Warriors hosted the Island School Voyagers saw the Warriors victorious in both the JV and varsity matches. The JV Warriors took its series in three, 28-26, 25-12 and 26-16, and the varsity Warriors similarly closed the doors in three sets — 25-21, 25-14 and 25-13.
Passing errors were costly to Kauai in the opening set when Waimea came back from an 22-18 deficit and served up six unanswered points behind a solid hit from Keana Silva. The remaining points resulted from Kauai miscues.
The Raiders shook off the errors to come back with a solid second set where the ladies in red broke away from an early stalemate and never let the Menehune in on the 25-19 win to knot the series.
Waimea came back in the resulting sets. Looking at a 12-9 deficit set up by a strong hit from Kauai’s Rebecca Zenger, Waimea came back behind on Tehani Togioka’s strong service block showing that forced Kauai passing errors and a strong hit from Isabella Bateman for the 16-12 go-ahead.
Kauai answered on a hit from freshman Kaleonahe Bukoski and a Menehune net error to close the gap, 16-14. But Waimea controlled the court for the 25-20 win.
“The girls were not consistent tonight,” said Kauai coach Kehau Regidor. “Coaches always say, ‘You perform how you practice,’ and heading into tonight, our practices have been alright. We’re still looking for the fight in the girls. Waimea always fights, irregardless of the score. We have to learn to fight. We have good talent. We need to learn to play together.”
Waimea controlled the third set from the onset, sealing the deal behind aces from Togioka and Raelee Samio, strong blocking from Kaye Serapio, Gabrielle Pelaras and Bateman, and solid hitting from Silva, Peleras, and Leiko Yamauchi.
Delanoza said the four-day disruption from Hurricane Lane was a turning point for the Menehune.
“We had a tought preseason,” Delanoza said. “We learned a lot about ourselves. The disruption from the hurricane gave us the time we needed for the girls to find themselves and decide how they would play the game. They called, texted and talked with each other during this time. It was the turning point for us.”
With the sweep, the Warriors visit Kauai High School on Saturday at the Red Raiders’ gym, and Waimea will come over to the Wilcox Gymnasium at Island School. JV games serve up at 5 p.m., and varsity matches will not start earlier than 6:30 p.m.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.