What a difference a point makes. The Mission High Lady Eagles were one point away from clinching sole possession of fourth place and the final playoff spot in District 32-4A Tuesday evening when the Mercedes Lady Tigers came from behind to take the fifth and deciding set by a score of 16-14. As a result Mission and Mercedes ended district play tied for fourth place with identical 9-7 records.
Since the two teams split their two head-to-head regular season games, they will play a single game tie-breaker this weekend to determine who will advance to the playoffs.
A closed-door meeting was held immediately after Tuesday night’s game to determine the date, time and location of the winner-take-all playoff. Those in attendance included both teams’ head coaches, Mission High School principal Joe Lopez and MHS girls athletic director Iris Iglesias. Players, fans and sports writers waited patiently for what seemed to be well over an hour for the decision to be made.
The tie-breaker game will be held at 5:30 p.m., today (Friday) at Donna North High School.
Regarding Tuesday night’s loss, Coach Clemons said injuries contributed to the Lady Eagles’ inability to put the Lady Tigers away when they had the chance.
“In the first round we did beat them in three sets,” explained Clemons. “This time around I am dealing with two injuries to our outside hitters, Jackie Ovando with a very high ankle sprain and my freshman Emily Alvarado who is hurt from her knee. Jackie was out for almost two weeks and while she is slowly coming back she is not at 100 percent yet. Emily has been going to the trainer for treatments and she played hurt today.”
Clemons went on to explain how those injuries may have hindered some of her players in another way against Mercedes.
“It seemed to me as if those playing hurt tonight may have been playing a little safe because they want to go on and play some more,” explained Clemons. “So they weren’t jumping as high or hitting as hard as they would’ve otherwise.”
In the locker room immediately after the meeting, Clemons told her team to believe in themselves no matter what others may be saying.
“I told them that people have been saying that we should not be where we’re at,” said Clemons. “They’ve been saying that we’re a young team and that we should be rebuilding. I told them that no matter what others say, I know that they do have the capability, otherwise we would not be in this situation. I have to give Mercedes credit, they came to play tonight and we just fell short.”
“We played in spurts tonight and I told them that we cannot play in spurts,” added Clemons. “I told them that they had to play strong, play to win and not let them in like we did tonight.”
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