WAIMEA — The challenge was set prior to the first serve at the Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball matches Saturday at both the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea and the Kauai High gym in Lihue.
Waimea hosted Island School, and Kapaa traveled to the home of the Raiders for its second outing of the fledging season, with differing goals. Waimea, a four-set victor over the Warriors Tuesday at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa, was seeking its second win of the season. Additionally, the Menehune set their sights on the Voyagers, who beat Kauai Wednesday in four sets at the Wilcox Gymnasium on the Island School Puhi campus.
The excitement grew in Waimea after the Voyager junior varsity squad got past the JV Menehune, 2-1 — 25-22, 16-25, and 25-22. Over at the Kauai High gym, the JV Red Raiders came out with a 3-0 win over the JV Lady Warriors — 26-24, 15-12, 25-15.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” said Royce Ebesu, an Island School team parent. “The girls have been working hard, we have a new athletic director, new coaches, new equipment, and everything is clean.”
The efforts started bearing fruit, starting with the Wednesday-night win over Kauai High School.
“We worked hard on making adjustments after we found out the results,” said Brandi Hori-Moises, the Waimea coach. “The girls have been working hard at practice, and the coaches had to dig in to make the adjustments.”
Following a hammer-thon between Menehune Railee Samio and Voyager Ashley Mecham, the Menehune emerged with a 3-0 victory — 25-19, 25-23, and 25-19 — despite the Menehune having to come back from a deficit in the second set, and holding off a strong Voyager challenge in the third set.
Samio set the stage early in the first set, hitting a winner and nailing a block for the 4-3 go-ahead. Opening-jitter miscues from the Voyagers grew the lead, and a Samio ace drove the game to 21-11. The Voyagers battled back when Mecham catalyzed the comeback effort on a bang that resulted in a 15-23 deficit. More Mecham hammers pulled the Voyagers closer until Menehune Kierstin Gummerus put away the set with an ace.
“This was a domino effect on the girls,” Hori-Moises said. “When Railee did well, the other girls followed. Once we got the ball rolling, they all picked up.”
Island School charged back in the second set, building an 8-4 advantage behind Mecham hammers. The Menehune capitalized on a Voyager service error and a Kepler Niccore bang, but still chased two digits until Tehani Togioka served up an ace to knot the contest 16-16. Togioka put up a block, and Samio hammered a winner for a 19-16 lead.
But the Voyagers answered, capitalizing on a Menehune hitting error, a block from Katie Cook and an ace from Sydney Jona to knot the contest, 19-19. The Menehune broke three additional deadlocks before sealing the deal, 25-23.
“These girls are hungry,” said Island School coach Darrick “Deej” Peleras. “But they’re playing in a different arena — a gym way bigger than the Wilcox that they’re accustomed to.”
Waimea built an 8-3 bulge in the final set when Samio served up six unanswered points with help from hits by Togioka and Voyager passing errors before Mecham stopped the run and led a Voyager run that ended with an ace for the digit deficit.
Hits from Callie Yavinsky and blocks from June Hsu and Cook knotted the scoreboard, 14-14, and a Yavinsky hit put Island on top, 16-15, until a service error knotted everything, 16-16. Waimea answered with a Samio ace and a Niccore hit for the 18-16 go-ahead. Samio’s block and a bang from Isabella Bateman set off the run before Samio sealed the deal, 25-19.
“The girls did pretty well,” Peleras said. “They know us, now, and the Voyagers get some respect. The girls were just overwhelmed tonight. They played and compensated — that’s the positive we take away from tonight. We have arrived!”
Over at Kauai High, the Red Raiders were handed their second loss of the season after Kapaa beat Kauai in five sets — 10-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22 and 16-14.
“There is going to be fireworks Wednesday at the Wilcox,” Ebesu said, referring to this week’s Island-Kapaa match.
Island School, now 1-1 on the season, will host Kapaa, also 1-1 following its five-set win, with the junior varsity match at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Wilcox Gymnasium on the Island School campus.
Kauai (0-2) is looking for its first win when it travels to the Clem Gomes Gym against Waimea (2-0) Wednesday, with the JV match starting at 5 p.m.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.