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Having earned their respective district championships, the Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots and the Sharyland Lady Rattlers volleyball teams are both preparing for the bi-district round of the playoffs next week. The Mission Lady Eagles could be the third of the Big 6 teams to qualify for post-season play but the final playoff spot will be decided in a one-game playoff to break their fourth-place tie with the Mercedes Lady Tigers at 5:30 p.m. today.
VMHS Lady Patriots
As the state’s No. 1 ranked and the country’s No. 14 ranked team, the Lady Patriots breezed through their 16 game district schedule. They are not only undefeated but have won all their games in straight sets. In total Coach Diana Lerma’s squad has won 37 games in a row this year making it the most successful season the Lady Patriots have ever had.
“We’ve worked hard year after year so we’ll gladly take the statewide and national recognition we are now receiving,” said Lerma. “While we have had teams with undefeated district records in the past we haven’t had a team that’s been undefeated from the very beginning of the season. I believe that is what’s giving us the recognition that we’re receiving now. The fact that we’ve swept all our district opponents this year in straight sets speaks to the kind of team that we have.”
Veterans avenged their only district loss of the season last year with two straight set victories over the Edcouch Elsa Lady Yellow Jackets this year. Whether they will have an opportunity to avenge last year’s season ending playoff loss to Floresville remains to be seen.
“We understand that in the playoffs we will be challenged,” explained Lerma. “Saturday we’re playing a pickup game with Los Fresnos at 1 p.m. there at Veterans so that will give us an opportunity to step up our game against a 5A team. As of right now it looks as if we’ll be playing either Corpus Christi Ray or Moody in the first round and either Floresville or Smithson Valley in the second round.”
“Last year we could’ve taken them (Floresville) in the fourth set but we allowed them to get back into the game and they took something that we felt belonged to us,” added Lerma. “So if we do get a rematch there will be some extra motivation for us to get that win.”
Being ranked as the top team in the state and one of the top teams in the nation as they enter the playoffs, Lerma knows that will give their opponents added incentive to knock them off their lofty perch.
“The rankings have put a bigger target on our backs but we’ve defeated much taller teams already this season and we know that the court is the same size and the net is the same height everywhere we go, so we’re not about to bow down to any team we may be going up against,” shared Lerma.
Sharyland Lady Rattlers
After losing seven of last year’s starters to graduation, Sharyland Lady Rattlers’ head volleyball coach Laura Cavazos knew it would take some time to find the right mix of experience and youth on her roster to repeat as District 30-5A champs this year. Fortunately, she was able to find that mix just in time for district play. As a result, the Lady Rattlers are preparing for the bi-district round of the playoffs with a 15-1 district record.
“We’re playing much better than we did at the beginning of the season,” explained Cavazos. “I think that the team has grown together a lot more and has meshed well together so it’s a good position to be in. We’re peaking at just the right time.”
Having missed out on an undefeated season by one game for the second time in her two years at Sharyland, Cavazos’ squad got payback last Saturday when they defeated the Edinburg North Lady Cougars in straight sets 25-22, 25-18 and 25-21.
“Our only loss of the season was a first round five sets loss to Edinburg North with the fifth set ending at 15-13,”shared Cavazos. “It was a very close match. We even had an 8-2 lead on them in the fifth set but we still lost it. While I would’ve loved to have remained undefeated, at least we have revenge and that’s always sweet.”
Last year, Sharyland advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs with victories over Del Rio, Los Fresnos and Brownsville Hanna before falling to Smithson Valley in the regional semi-final round. That was just one round short of the final four. With Sharyland High splitting into two schools next year, this could be the Lady Rattlers last chance in quite some time to advance even further into the playoffs than they did last year.
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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.