District play is in the rearview mirror and now teams are focused on what lies ahead: the postseason.
While 31-5A saw a changeup in teams this year, the key players remained the same.
Mission Veterans (37-3, 14-0), Sharyland (24-17, 10-4), and Pioneer (24-18, 10-4) each punched their playoff tickets with impressive performances throughout district play by finishing first, second and third. Now, the postseason picture is set and the teams are out to fight their way into the second round.
Mission Veterans Lady Patriots
Mission Veterans did it again. Four years, four district championships, four unbeaten seasons in district play for seniors Jackie Howell and Makenzie Gerlach and the Lady Patriots.
The senior duo and the Lady Patriots are now set to embark on their fourth trip to the playoffs and look to make it past the bi-district round for the fourth straight year.
Currently ranked third in the state according to the Texas Girls Coaches Association Poll, VMHS proved to be the strongest in the Valley and among the best in all of 5A Texas volleyball.
Head Coach Diana Lerma and the Lady Patriots set their goals at the beginning of the year: go further than any team in program history has gone before. The word “state” comes up frequently amongst the team because they truly believe they can win it all. This group at Mission Veterans has accomplished each goal they’ve set so far, and with a playoff bracket posted in the Lady Patriots locker room for weeks now, they’re locked-in on making program history once again.
The Mission Veterans Lady Patriots will host the Brownsville Lopez Lady Lobos in the bi-district round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at VMHS.
The Lady Patriots will play a pickup game on Saturday against the McAllen Memorial Lady Mustangs, the 30-6A champions who went 36-3 on the year and 14-0 in district. The two teams previously met on Aug. 7 with the Lady Patriots earning a 3-1 win.
Sharyland Lady Rattlers
Led by Estefania Hinojosa, the senior outside hitter who reached 1,000 career kills earlier this season, the Rattlers proved they can hang with anybody in the district, even the Lady Patriots.
The Lady Rattlers accomplished something no team had done in two years, win a set against Mission Veterans. In their second meeting, the Lady Rattlers shocked the Lady Patriots with a 27-25 win in the opening set.
Sharyland also picked up the first sweep in the five-year old rivalry between the Lady Rattlers and the Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks with wins of 3-0 and 3-1.
Hinojosa suffered a leg injury in the match against Mission Veterans and did not return, missing Sharyland’s final two regular season games.
While Sharyland, coached by Raul Castillo, was able to advance to the second round a year ago, this year will depend on Hinojosa’s availability and the ability of teammates like Tristen Maddox and Aydee Hinojosa to step up in her absence.
The Sharyland Lady Rattlers will meet Donna High in the bi-district round with the opening serve set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at PSJA Southwest High School in Pharr.
Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks
Pioneer opened its doors five years ago and the Lady Diamondbacks have now qualified for the playoffs in five straight years.
The Lady Diamondbacks and Head Coach Laura Cavazos finished the season with a 10-4 record and are riding a 3-game winning streak to close district play, building momentum at the right time.
Pioneer’s hitters have paced the Lady Diamondbacks all year as senior Daizy Coronado and junior Daniela Alvarez posted over 200 kills apiece. Putting them in place to succeed have been setters Lauren Brechler, a senior, and Natalie Reyes, a freshman.
Last season, Pioneer advanced to the area round but suffered a loss in a five-set thriller to San Antonio McCollum. If the Lady Diamondbacks are going to get back in the second round of the playoffs, they’ll have to get past the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers, District 32-5A’s second place finisher.
The Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks will face the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Lady Chargers in the bi-district round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Weslaco East High School.
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