PUHI — The automotive population nearly exceeded the limits of the specially mowed, specially lit parking areas surrounding the Wilcox Gymnasium Saturday night during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball matches between the host Voyager women and the Kauai High girls.
Occupants of those motored vehicles filled the Wilcox Gymnasium following the camaradiere of enjoying the culinary offerings by Voyager parent volunteers, energized by the food offering and relishing the intense court action that finished with Island School splitting its court appearance before an atmosphere that equalled a homecoming match.
Kauai High School’s Junior Varsity moved a step closer to the crown after sweeping its series, 25-18, 25-13, and 25-22, the final matchup setting the stage for the varsity matchup.
The Voyager varsity rolled to an easy first two sets, 25-15, and 25-18, but in the process, roused the Red Raider ladies who spoiled the sweep with a 25-16 win before succumbing in the fourth set, 23-25.
“We started well in the first two sets,” said Island School coach Darrick “Deej” Peleras. “We were proud of the way the girls executed on the court. But that third set — we just couldn’t get out of that hole. We made adjustments, but nothing appeared to work. We just had to shake that off and come back to finish.”
The Red Raiders started that set strong behind the hammering of senior captain Waileia Edwards and Nahe Bukoski, another Raider team captain.
“Our libero, Darien Kealoha-Albarado, had a good night out there,” said Kauai coach Kehau Regidor. “She had a strong night.”
Kealoha-Albarado took the service block to string up a 6-1 lead fueled by Bukoski whacks before the Voyagers answered on Raider miscues.
Nahe Edwards, the younger of the Edwards’ sisters, took the service block for a string of seven unanswered points, including a pair of aces and a Voyager time out to build a 13-3 lead that was fueled by a Kelsey Ortiz block and several Voyager technical errors.
Facing a 21-12 deficit, Voyager Ashley Mecham answered, but could only string together three points, drawing Island School to a six-point gap. The Red Raiders continued to hammer, Waileia putting the period on a 24-16 lead before a Voyager passing error sealed the set.
During that outing, Red Raider Katherine O’Neill made her appearance on the court as Regidor rotated through her roster.
“We couldn’t play everyone,” the Kauai coach said. “There were some players who were down with the flu. But, we tried to get everyone some court time.”
The Voyagers nursed an 8-5 lead behind Mecham’s whacks, but the Raiders wouldn’t go down, answering with Waileia and Bukoski hits until the slugfest was knotted, 8-8 on a Voyager miscue.
Wailana Marvin put the Voyagers up, 9-8 only to have Waileia answer for another deadlock, and a Raider offensive error was redeemed by a Bukoski whack for the 11-11 deadlock.
Mecham combined with a Voyager block to hammer out a 17-14 lead, but the Raiders wouldn’t relent.
Facing a 17-23 deficit, Kauai fought back with a string of points on Waileia hits, Bukoski hits, and a solid hit and block from O’Neill to knot the match, 23-23 before June Hsu pulled the Voyagers ahead, and a Raider error sealed the night.
“Katherine never played, before,” Regidor said. “This season is the first time she got to handle the volleyball. She did well.”
Peleras was pleased with the outcome.
“We’re at a point where we need to be,” the Island School coach said. “The girls have achieved all of the goals we set up since the start of the season. We have to set new goals, now — a shot at the title is a first for Island School. We have nothing to lose. We enter Waimea, Tuesday with our backs against the wall.”
The Voyagers make the trip to the Clem Gomes Gym, Tuesday to face the Menehune who are undefeated in the season following Waimea’s four-set win against Kapaa. The junior varsity contest serves up at 5 p.m. with the varsity match to follow.
Kauai High School will host Kapaa in its final home game of the season, Tuesday at the Kauai High School gym.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.