Don’t tell Coach Laura Cavazos and her Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks, but they are having the kind of season first-year programs are not supposed to have. With an 8-1 district record (27-9 overall) and sole possession of second place, the Lady Diamondbacks are in the thick of the District 31-5A volleyball playoff race and are still in the running for a possible district championship.
With only three games remaining on their schedule, Cavazos’ squad is all but assured of securing a playoff spot. However, if the Lady Diamondbacks are going to keep alive their lofty aspirations of earning a district championship or co-championship in their very first season, they will have to do something tomorrow that many have tried but very few have accomplished – defeating the Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots.
Immediately after the Lady Diamondbacks’ eighth win of the season, a 14-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-17 victory over the Edinburg Vela Lady Sabercats Tuesday evening, Cavazos took a few minutes to share what she is expecting from tomorrow’s rematch against the Lady Patriots.
“We’re expecting it to be a good game,” said Cavazos. “We have a little redemption in mind for our earlier loss. I felt as if we really didn’t put our best foot forward against them last time and that we could’ve done better had we left it all on the court. We’ve been trying not to look ahead to the rematch too much, but now is the time to prepare and to get ready for them.”
“They’ve got a great offense and a great defense, so we’re looking forward to those match-ups and to make sure that it’s a great game,” added Cavazos.
As the state’s No. 1 ranked team for most of last season and having climbed the national rankings to the No. 11 spot prior to their only loss of the year in the regional semifinal round of the playoffs, Coach Diana Lerma’s Lady Patriots set a standard of excellence that even they are finding hard to live up to this year. Even so, the Lady Patriots are the reigning queens of Valley volleyball and at 8-0 in district play so far this season they are not about to give up even a share of the district title without a fight.
With the only loss on the Lady Diamondbacks’ district record having come at the hands of the Lady Patriots and with the Lady Patriots having yet to suffer a loss, chances are that if VMHS repeats their earlier success against Pioneer when they meet tomorrow, they will secure the outright district championship once again. However, should the Lady Diamondbacks get the redemption they are seeking, they would be just two wins away from earning at least a co-championship in their inaugural season.
As one of only two seniors on the Pioneer roster, outside hitter Nora Monie could’ve chosen to return to Sharyland High School and finish out her high school volleyball career as a Lady Rattler. However Monie chose to follow Cavazos, who was the Lady Rattlers’ head coach for the past two seasons.
When asked what it will take for her team to even up the score with the Lady Patriots, Monie said, “Confidence. Our goal all season long has to build our team confidence. Since we are in our first year and since most first year teams don’t do well, I think other teams have underestimated us. But I think we’ve shown that we’re not like most first year teams.”
As one of the leaders on the team, one of the responsibilities Monie has taken on has been to help some of her younger teammates come into their own. Two teammates she has seen come a long way this season are junior liberos Elise Lopez and Bianca Garza.
“I would say that our two liberos have really shown a lot of improvement,” shared Monie. “Even though they have not been on the team as long as I have, they did travel with us when we made it to regionals at Sharyland so they know what to expect and they already have the high standards they’ll need to be successful.”
Tomorrow’s rematch between the Lady Patriots and the Lady Diamondbacks will be played in the main gym at Pioneer High School. However, due to tomorrow’s SAT and ACT testing the scheduled start time has been changed from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.