The Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots and Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks both had to travel to play their bi-district round playoff games Tuesday night but both emerged victorious as the Lady Patriots defeated the Mercedes Lady Tigers and the Lady Diamondbacks defeated the PSJA Lady Bears.
As District 31-5A champions, the Lady Patriots earned the right to play the fourth place Lady Tigers who quickly found themselves overmatched against the Valley’s top team. While the Lady Tigers fed off their home crowd’s enthusiasm early to take a 3-0 lead in the first game, Veterans roared back to take the opener by a score of 25-14. Games 2 and 3 went much the same way with the Lady Patriots winning both by double digits 25-12 and 25-13.
In total it took the Lady Patriots less than an hour to take the straight sets victory over Mercedes, advancing to the area round where they will be taking on Flour Bluff.
With nine kills, one assist, one ace, two digs and three blocks Veterans Memorial’s junior middle hitter Daisy Reyna made her presence felt against the Lady Tigers in a big way.
“Our mentality all year has been to go further in the playoffs this year than we did last,” shared Reyna. “We can’t let anybody get into our heads. We just need to play our game and play to our full potential. We did struggle a little tonight but once we started talking and calling the ball we got our momentum and we started making plays.”
Sophomore all-around player D.D. Ibarra had 11 kills, 16 assists, six aces and 15 digs for the Lady Patriots Tuesday night. As impressive as those stats are, Ibarra thought that she could’ve done more.
“Personally, I thought that I could’ve done a lot better tonight,” said Ibarra. “I was not connecting with my hitters and that’s something that I need to work on.”
In her third year as a starter, junior Gabby Lerma contributed to the Veterans Memorial victory over Mercedes with 15 kills, seven assists, two aces, 15 digs and one block.
“We could’ve played better tonight but luckily we played well enough to win this match,” explained Lerma. “For our next match however we’re going to have to step it up. I myself had a lot of errors tonight but I’ll do better next game.”
As the Lady Patriots head coach, Diana Lerma expressed similar sentiments about her team’s play against Mercedes.
“We didn’t play to the best of our ability but a win is a win and we’ll take it,” Lerma said. “The good thing is that the scouts that were here didn’t see us at the level of play we are capable of playing so that’s a positive. We will most likely be playing Flour Bluff next and while we did not send a scout to their game I see that they did have one here at our game.”
“This was not the kind of game I’m used to seeing my girls play,” added Lerma. “It’s like they were playing just to finish,”
With Tuesday night’s victory the Lady Patriots took their first step in attaining their season-long goal of surpassing last year’s playoff success in which they advanced into the fourth round of the state playoffs. Veterans Memorial will be traveling to Alice High School tonight where they will be playing Flour Bluff in the area round of the playoffs at 7 p.m.
Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks
The Lady Diamondbacks extended their inaugural season by winning the first playoff game in Pioneer High School history over the PSJA Lady Bears Tuesday night. After getting off to a slow start, Pioneer trailed PSJA, 21-13, before mounting a ferocious comeback and outscoring the Lady Bears 13-3 to take the first set 26-24. The Lady Diamondbacks went on to win set No. 2 by the same two point margin, 28-26, and set No. 3 by four points, 25-21.
Having her team fall behind early on, Pioneer head coach Laura Cavazos called a timeout that helped her girls get on track just in time to take the critical first set.
“We came off to a really bad start and missed some serves,” said Cavazos. “I think we just had the jitters we were down 13-21 when I called my last timeout. Then we came out and the girls didn’t stop pushing. Taking that first match just said a lot about our tenacity.”
Individually, Nora Monie had two aces, 15 kills and seven digs, Maddie Hatzold had 13 kills and two digs, Deandra Garza had seven kills, Mariah Youngblood had nine kills and five digs and Audrey Smith two aces, two kills, 37 assists and six digs against PSJA.
The Lady Diamondbacks will be playing Victoria West in the area round of the state playoffs tonight at 6 p.m. at Corpus Christi Carroll High School.