LIHUE — The Warriors unbeaten streak is now to eight matches.
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Kauai High School, 3-0, at the Kauai High School gym.
Kapaa (8-0 KIF, 2-0 2nd round) edged Kauai in all three sets — 26-24, 30-28, 25-23.
In all three sets, the Warriors overcame late deficits to win the set.
“Once, again, just a lot of unforced. We didn’t have good starts. Well, we didn’t have a good start in the first set, but we were able to finish every single set, I thought” Kaona said. “I think that was the key takeaway from tonight despite how tough we had it and struggled. We were able to close out those sets. We were down toward the end of those sets, but we were able to come back and fight and win. But to be able to pull out those last two points in each set is key. So, we can finish strong, but now it’s about starting strong in every single set.”
In the second set, Kapaa looked at a 28-27 deficit. Kapaa tied the score at 28-28 on a kill by Kiran Costa.
Ali‘i Brown scored on a kill to give Kapaa a 29-28 lead. Costa then scored a kill to win the extended set for the Warriors.
In the third set, Kauai (4-4 KIF, 1-1 2nd round) had a 20-18 lead, but the Warriors eventually were able to tie it at 22-22 later on.
Kapaa took a 23-22 lead on a Red Raiders attacking error and kept that lead through until the 25-23 final.
Kauai head coach Enoch A‘ana said even with leads late in set, the team played flat and couldn’t clinch.
“We were very lethargic today, like they looked very tired. The energy was low,” A‘ana said. “I think when you come into a game like this with low energy, that’s how unfortunately we’ll produce. The last game (against Kapaa), we came in with high energy right off the bat, and we ended up going to five (sets). It all starts with the energy level. It doesn’t matter. You can have the best players on the team, but if you have this low energy, it feeds off to the next person and the next person. And then the next thing you know, we’re playing low-energy volleyball.”
He added: “What I mean is, even when we were ahead, the energy didn’t rise. We stayed stagnant. I was telling them, ‘Hey, when you get a lead, you have to keep the lead. You got to bring the energy. You got to take the momentum and run with it.’ But we couldn’t take that momentum, so we were stagnant. We played flat volleyball tonight.”
Some new Warriors were inserted into the starting lineup during Friday’s match.
Kapaa was without starting setter Rusdan-Rocket Ahuna because of illness, so backup Kurtis Fujito-Pascua got the nod.
Outside hitter Raine Youn, a returning senior and a starter on last year’s team, was re-inserted back into Kaona’s A-team lineup after starting the season as a reserve.
“It’s been fun and kind of hard. I had to really work at practice. I had to give it all my energy at practice,” Youn said. “There’s three outside hitter I have to compete with. Getting a chance tonight was pretty fun because I worked super hard to get that position.”
Youn added about working out of late deficits: “We just keep pushing. We’ll just wash the last play. Like, if Kauai High got a kill, we’ll just wash it and go straight into the next one. We don’t think about it or overthink it. We just go straight into the next play.”
Youn ended with 11 kills for Kapaa. Costa led the team with 18 kills and a block. Brown ended with five kills. Justin Faidley had 10 kills, an ace and a block.
Fujito-Pascua ended with a game-high 42 assists.
“I was so stoked for our setter, No. 7, for him to come in,” Kaona said. “He’s a junior. He’s only played the game very shortly, so he doesn’t have a lot of experience. I think the only thing we were worried about was his confidence, but once he was able to start, we tried to build him up in practices leading up to this game. The boys rallied around him, so he felt good going into the game.
“And then, I think Raine did an awesome job. He wasn’t getting the pounds in the kills, but he had a lot of off-the-block situations, and they just couldn’t stop it. I was so happy and proud of him. I thought he did great defensively. But once again, we just talked about it — our depth is so good and deep, that whoever we bring in can contribute immediately. It’s not like they find their groove after one or two sets. They can come into the game and contribute from the get-go. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Kaimani Tecson was Kauai’s leading scorer with 19 kills and a block. Kysen Parongao had six kills. Keane Tibon had three blocks and a kill.
Rence Soriano ended with 20 assists, two kills, an ace and a block. Joshua Garcia had eight assists and two kills.
“Regardless of what the scoreline showed, it was a phenomenal game,” A‘ana said. “Kapaa came in here, and they played a very cohesive game. They didn’t have their regular setter, so that new setter stepped in and he did a great job. They just gelled. I saw new faces on that court. I think they got in and battled, and it was a great battle.”
Kauai defeated Kapaa, 2-1, in the junior varsity match — 25-17, 24-26, 25-21.
In the night’s other Kauai Interscholastic Federation varsity match, Waimea High School defeated Island School in straight sets at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea — 25-9, 25-16, 25-9.
Kapaa will host Waimea (4-4 KIF, 1-1 2nd round) at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa on Tuesday. The JV match will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Kauai will play at Island School (0-8 KIF, 0-2 2nd round) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.