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Volleyball playoffs: And then there were three

It’s playoff time for high school volleyball teams all across the state, and three of the Upper Valley’s Big 7 volleyball teams are looking forward to playing on. The top four teams in each district will play their “second season” in the bi-district round of the state playoffs either Monday or Tuesday.

The three Big 7 teams still alive are Veterans Memorial High School Lady Patriots, Sharyland Pioneer High School Lady Diamondbacks and Mission High School Lady Eagles.

20141028 Volleyball MHS vs MMHS lg-10Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots

As the undefeated District 31-5A champions, the Lady Patriots have not only qualified for post season play, but they have done so as the top seed. They will be playing the fourth seed in District 32-5A – Mercedes Lady Tigers. A coin flip has determined that this game will be played Tuesday Nov. 4 at Mercedes High School. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

After being the No. 1 ranked team in the state 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 have their work cut out for them if they’re going to attain their goal of surpassing last year’s playoff success.

“The girls’ goal is to go further in the playoffs this year than we did last,” said Lerma. “It’s going to be a little bit tougher though because we will be going up against one of the Corpus Christi teams in the second round this year. Flour Bluff and Calallen are loaded with talent as well.”

“With the experience we gained in the playoffs last year and with the tough opponents we went up against in preseason tournaments, I believe that we will be better prepared this year than we were last,” added Lerma. “We were hoping to schedule Los Fresnos for a warm-up game this Saturday, and take a win back for the defeat they handed us in the preseason, but they won’t be available since they’re tied for first in their district and they’ll have to play a tie-breaker.”

Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks

It’s been said that in today’s society instant gratification takes too long. Having qualified for the playoffs in their schools’ very first year is pretty much the equivalent of instant gratification for Coach Laura Cavazos and the Lady Diamondbacks.

As the second seed in District 31-5A, the 10-2 Lady Diamondbacks will be playing the third place team in District 32-5A, the PSJA Lady Bears, at PSJA High School Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.

As for what her team’s goals were at the beginning of the season and whether or not they have achieved them Cavazos said, “At the beginning of the season we sat down as a team and we decided what our goals and expectations were going to be. The one thing we set out to do was to make history for the team by setting the bar for other teams to strive for as they come through Pioneer. Seeing as how our record is 30-10, which I consider to be a pretty successful season, I see that as one of our biggest accomplishments. Hitting the 30 win mark sets the tone as being what we do at Pioneer and hopefully that will be looked at as a minimum standard in the years to come.”

Mission High Lady Eagles

The 2014 season has not gone entirely as planned for Coach Edna Clemons and the 6-6 Lady Eagles volleyball team, but despite their struggles they have qualified for the playoffs as District 30-6A’s fourth seed. They will be opening their post season play against District 29-6A champions Laredo United Lady Longhorns Tuesday, Nov. 4.

A neutral site of Roma High School was selected as the location for this game with the start time being either 6 or 7 p.m. If the Roma Lady Gladiators have a home playoff game that same evening, the Lady Eagles’ game will begin at 6 p.m. otherwise it will begin at 7 p.m.

While the Lady Eagles’ starting lineup has undergone a major overhaul since the beginning of the season, Clemons believes that her team has emerged stronger as a result.

“At the beginning of the season it was more of a get-to-know-you situation around here,” said Clemons. “We had to learn what each of our players was capable of so as a result my lineup has changed several times. In doing so we have become stronger as the season has gone on and we are a tough team.”

“One of my sophomores, Lissete Vela, has really gotten her timing on her blocks and the touch on her tips down so that has really helped,” added Clemons. “I have a young defense in the back so they’re digging, and digging and digging and I applaud them for that. It’s hard for these girls that have come from the freshman team, or that I moved up as freshmen last year and sat on the bench, but are now playing the whole game. But they’ve sure come around.”

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