KAPAA — The Warriors celebrated their victory in their home gym soon after the final point was scored.
As the Bernice Hundley Gym filled with cheers, Warriors senior Robert “Ali‘i” Brown signaled to the crowd holding up four fingers in the air.
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys volleyball team defeated Kauai High School on Tuesday to clinch the school’s fourth consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship.
It is also its fifth league title won under head coach Kapule Kaona in the last six years.
“It feels great. I have to attribute that to the program, community and support that we’ve gotten here,” Kaona said. “When you’ve got such a good supportive group and good people around you — players, coaches, parents, administration, athletic director — when you have good people around you, good things happen.”
Tied at 25-25 in the third set, Kapaa (11-0 KIF, 5-0 2nd round) scored the next two kills to clinch the straight set win — 25-23, 25-20, 27-25.
Kapaa’s Kiran Costa posted the game-winning kill. Rusdan-Rocket Ahuna served the assist on the play.
“I’m thankful for everybody that came, thankful to my family and coaches, and my brothers and teammates,” Ahuna said. “Going out with this win tonight was definitely a team effort, not only the seniors. It was definitely fun, and I’ve had the best time playing. This feels great.”
Ahuna said of winning four straight KIF titles: “Playing varsity all four years and winning KIF all four years, definitely I’m very thankful for that. It’s something that hasn’t even hit me yet. Every year, we just come and fight. There was no guarantee with anything. We’re just really humble, and I’m just thankful for everything that has happened.”
Kauai (6-5 KIF, 3-2 2nd round) stayed close with Kapaa but didn’t hold a lead until late in the third set.
Tied at 24-24, the Red Raiders took a 25-24 lead on a kill by Kaimani Tecson.
The score leveled at 25-25 on a Kauai service error before Kapaa went on the win the set.
“It was a great game. I cannot ask for anything more,” said Kauai head coach Enoch A‘ana. “I just want to congratulate our eight seniors that played their hearts out. They left everything on the court. We came to battle, and battle we did. The scores reflect that. It wasn’t a blowout at all. But, again, our services killed us. We had 14 service errors. I think that was a lot of mistakes on our part.
“But other than that, I think our defense was executed well. They blocked well, and our offense did well. It was just our service errors. I think if we cleaned that up, the score would have been different. Congratulations to the eight seniors on Kapaa. They have eight, we have eight. So, wish them all the best at states.”
Costa totaled a game-high 18 kills and one ace for Kapaa. Brown had seven kills. Justin Faidley had seven kills, a block and an ace.
Ahuna posted a game-high 35 assists.
Tecson led Kauai with 14 kills and two blocks. Keane Tibon had six kills and three blocks. Samuel Asano had four kills.
Rence Soriano totaled four kills, 14 assists and an ace for the Red Raiders. Joshua Garcia had two kills and 13 assists.
Tuesday was Kapaa’s senior night. Eight Warriors were honored following the match including Ahuna, Costa and Brown.
“The last four years at Kapaa High School has been the best thing of my life,” Ahuna said. “It’s definitely helped me become who I am. I’m just really happy and thankful, and I’ll continue to say I’m thankful. Everything that has happened to me, it’s always been great. It’s something you really can’t buy.”
Kaona said of his seniors: “To play at a high level consistently is all I could have asked for. They’re going to be a great loss. They were good leaders, good teammates, good people and coachable, and that’s all I needed from them. They are going to be missed. It’s a big chunk of our squad. That’s more than half of the team that will be departing this year.”
Kauai won Tuesday’s junior varsity match against Kapaa, 2-1 — 25-16, 25-20, 13-25.
In the night’s other KIF varsity match, Waimea defeated Island School in straight sets — 25-21, 25-14, 25-21.
Kapaa will close out its season at Waimea High School (5-6 KIF, 2-3 2nd round) on Saturday. The JV game will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Kauai will host Island School (0-11 KIF, 0-5 2nd round) at 6:30 p.m. Monday to conclude the 2019 KIF boys volleyball season.
A‘ana said when the team celebrates its senior night, it will be especially meaningful.
“These are my first four-year kids. I’ve had them since their freshman year,” he said. “These eight seniors, they never gave up on their coach. They came and played every single year. Regardless of what our season ended up, they gave me 110 percent.
“My son played on this team (previously), but I have to say this team by far is the best team I’ve ever coached. Mentally, physically, emotionally, this team was in it to win it. Unfortunately, this team fell a little short. But if I had to guesstimate what my favorite team of all-time, this is it. So, senior night will be really emotional for us.”
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.