At the Veterans Memorial High School gym Tuesday evening, the Lady Patriots varsity volleyball team swept the Lady Eagles in three straight sets for the second time this season. With the win, Coach Diana Lerma’s 16th-ranked Lady Patriots squad improved their district record to 11-1. Veterans Memorial took the first and second sets by identical scores of 25-17 and completed the sweep in the third set by a score of 25-13. Tuesday’s loss dropped the Lady Eagles’ district record to 7-5.
Top performers for the Lady Patriots included Shania Gilpin with 24 kills and seven digs, Gabby Lerma with 15 kills, 16 digs and three aces, Kenia Garcia with 16 assists and seven digs, Kassy Lopez with 13 assists and seven digs and Mariah Gonzalez with 25 digs.
Standouts for the Lady Eagles included Bianca Mendez with seven kills and seven blocks, Brandy Sifuentes with five kills, one solo block and nine digs, Marcy Barrientos with four kills, two blocks, four serving points, one ace and three digs, Harley Rodriguez with one kill, eight serving points, ten setting assists and eight digs, Lizzie Elizondo with nine digs and Cassie Clemons with three kills and five digs.
As Lerma explained, Tuesday night’s game was a continuation of a rivalry between the Lady Patriots and the Lady Eagles that always packs the bleachers with fans of both teams.
“It’s a good feeling being that it’s a rival school,” said Lerma. “I know that everybody comes out to support the Lady Patriots whenever we play the Lady Eagles. We did take them in three games and the girls had fun with it. Thank God we came out on top.”
Recent changes to the line-up proved to be a contributing factor to the Lady Patriots’ win according to Lerma.
“It was a whole team effort,” said Lerma. “We ended up changing our line-up a little. We changed our libero to Mariah Gonzalez and she did a fantastic job and we moved Alysson Moreno up from the junior varsity to take the front row.”
Lady Patriots’ middle blocker Shania Gilpin expressed the importance of Tuesday night’s win against the Lady Eagles.
“It was good,” said Gilpin. “We came out here ready for the rivalry. It’s a big thing around here when we play Mission. Everyone knows that you don’t want to lose to your rival team. We came out and did what we had to do.”
With only two district games left before the start of the playoffs, the Lady Patriots are right on track in Gilpin’s view.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time. When the playoffs come we’ll be ready,” said Gilpin.
Lady Eagles’ head coach Edna Clemons expressed what she believed to be a reason for her players’ costly mistakes.
“The girls came to this game with a lot of adrenaline,” said Clemons. “This is a game that they look forward to and always, always set a goal to come up with a win at the end. I think the adrenaline worked against them however because a lot of outs and a lot of mis-serves hurt us.”
With Mission and Veterans Memorial being in the same district this year, Tuesday night’s game was more than just a matchup between two sister schools. It was the second chapter in a cross-town rivalry that could have playoff implications for both teams.
“We are in third place right now and four teams are going to make the playoffs,” said Clemons. “There is always room for improvement so I have changed our line-up quite a few times this year. If one girl is not stepping it up and another is, I have the option of putting the girl that is accomplishing her goals into the line-up.”
Even though the Lady Eagles are one of the top teams in the district, Clemons acknowledges the fact that her players have work to do if they are to reach their full potential.
They need to step it up and know how to finish it,” said Clemons. “If they don’t know how to finish it, adrenaline is not going to help them and their team is not going to help them. They’ve got to learn how to step it up and set their goals and reach for those goals individually and as a team.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.