KAPAA — The Kapaa High School girls volleyball team was leading 15-12 in the first set over Waimea High School Saturday night during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation matches at Bernice Hundley Gym.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Waimea’s tandem blocking effort led by Leiko Yamauchi and Raelee Samio sent the ball back to Kapaa hitter Talia Washington, sending the Warrior crumpling to the floor, and stopping play while the physical trainer, athletic director and corps of coaches huddled over the stricken player while players from both teams watched in shock.
That was a turning point in the night as Waimea, claiming the point on the play through the blocking effort, turned the tide to tie the contest on a Samio dump and take the go-ahead on a Kapaa net violation, 16-15.
Waimea High School went on to take the series in straight sets, 25-19, 25-13, and 25-19 despite efforts from the Warriors at trying to fill the void left by Washington’s departure from the floor. The Menehune victory gives them the first round crown, moving them to 5-1 on the season.
Earlier in the evening, the Menehune junior varsity also claimed its series, 2-1 over the Warriors, 25-14, 22-25 and 25-18.
Over at the Wilcox Gymnasium at Island School, Kauai High School swept its series, the JV claiming victory, 25-12, 25-11 and 25-18, while the varsity girls left the gym with a straight-set win, 25-22, 25-10, 25-16.
“The (five-set) loss we had Wednesday (at Island School) was a good life lesson,” said Waimea coach Chad Delanoza. “It gave us a chance to reflect, and we worked on balance — getting the girls to complement their work on the front with actions in the back that make a difference. And the key is being consistent.”
Despite the shock of Washington’s injury, the Warrior girls battled, forcing ties in the second set until Yamauchi served up a string of five unanswered points for 20-10 advantage.
Kapaa stayed close in the third set, a Sydney Nice bang keeping Kapaa at Waimea’s heels, 9-10, before Yamauchi’s service performance put the game out of reach, 18-12 on a string of five unanswered points.
“Tonight was very rough,” said Kapaa coach Ari Logan. “Things were coming together, and just about when the girls started playing as a team. … I’m very proud of them — all of them. I know they worked hard, especially after the injury, and we worked on trying different rotations to fill the gap. A lot of the girls were playing positions they never had to before, but I’m so proud of how they stepped up play.”
With the first round settled, the next volleyball is Sept. 26 when Kauai High travels to the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea, and Kapaa visits Wilcox Gymnasium against the Voyagers. The junior varsity games begin at 5 p.m. with the varsity matches starting no earlier than 6:30 p.m.
“We’re giving the girls a day off to heal,” Delanoza said. “Rest is what the girls need now. Illnesses, colds, injuries, they need this time off. We have a short week ahead of us because of homecoming, so we’ll take advantage of that. Rest is important for the girls.”
Logan said the Warriors will also take the time to rebuild.
“We’re back to square one,” the Kapaa coach said. “We need the time to find ourselves. It’s tough.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.