WAIPIO — Despite all of its success this season, the Kahuku girls water polo team had been lacking in one department according to its head coach Larisa "Lacy" Luehrs.
"We're working on communication as a whole," said Luehrs, a first-year head coach. "The team has been having problems with communication, but they're doing really well. We have a large younger class coming up, so the seniors have been really stepping up, not only working for themselves to be prepared for the rest of the season, but to train and coach the younger girls."
While the Red Raiders are working out the communication kins, they took care of business in the pool, cruising to a 17-5 win over Leilehua Saturday morning at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Complex at Patsy T. Mink/Central Oahu Regional Park.
Kahea Kahaulelio scored a game-high five goals and her twin sister, Nohea, added three more to help Kahuku improve to 11-0 on the season.
"Today was an excellent performance," Kahea Kahaulelio said. "There were some things that we can work on and will work on for the next game. Our passes and our assists are getting there. If we have that possession, we take it. If we see an assist, we also pass. We want to let all our players shoot and score goals."
Nine different players scored goals for the Red Raiders, who led throughout the match. They built a 5-0 lead in the first six minutes of the first quarter, including a pair of goals by Indie Pyzel.
Kahuku held a 7-2 lead at halftime, but blew it open in the third period, when it outscored Leilehua, 7-0.
"In halftime we actually divided our team and separated seniors into groups with our younger girls, having them work on plays themselves, also coaching them in the water," said Kahaulelio, who will play collegiate at Pomona-Pitzer College next year.
Luehrs said the move was all about improving player communication.
"We divided them into groups of three, so that way they're able to communicate with girls that they don't normally play with," said Luehrs, a former player and current teacher at the school. "There were two leaders in each group and like I said, the communication is what we're really working on and mental toughness. Physically we're in really good shape, so we're just working on the communication."
Auri Kunz also scored a pair of goals for the Red Raiders, who have won 11 of the 12 Oahu Interscholastic Association titles since the sport's inception in 2004, including the last five years.
"I would like to say the word ‘motivated' throughout the season, because we do want to get everybody in the pool, but we also would love for our older girls, who have been doing this program not just in high school, but from intermediate — we have girls that have been with us for six years — so it's kind of working out now where we have everything kind of coming together," Luehrs said.
Luehrs said part of the program's success is due to a rigorous conditioning program.
"We actually prep them mentally and we swim them regardless of what day it is," Luehrs said. "Sometimes we have swim sets right before game day, so regardless we are just wanting them to be prepped physically, so we know that swimming is an aspect of it. Some teams are really good swimmers and their skills are still there, and that's where we come into some trouble, so we're just kind of working on their physical swimming and their mental toughness as well."
Keahi-Iele Roy and Dana Okuma each scored two goals apiece for the Mules, fell to 6-5 with the loss.
The Red Raiders also defeated Mililani later in the day to complete an undefeated regular season and will turn their sights on the Stanford Carr Development, LLC/Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Championships, May 6 to 9 at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex.
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