Big 7 volleyball update
Late October is usually a transition time in the local high school volleyball scene. For the most part the regular season has ended and teams are either putting away their equipment and uniforms for the year or preparing for first round playoff matchups. This year’s revamped schedules have changed the usual timeline. The teams of the Big 7 started district play just a few weeks ago and Friday, October 30 finds them near, at or just past the halfway point of the regular season instead of the end of it.
Mission High and La Joya High, the two Big 7 teams from District 31-6A, wrapped up their first round of district contests this past Tuesday with a head-to-head matchup at Neuhaus Gym on the campus of Mission High School. The Lady Eagles 3-0 victory (25-14, 25-8, 25-23) kept the team in a first place tie with Edinburg North, both of whom have 6-1 district records. Mission is 8-1 overall. The Lady Coyotes remain winless on the year.
The Lady Eagles used an 11-2 scoring run to overcome an early 6-5 deficit in the matches’ first set aided by two aces from Alinah Hernandez and kills from Makayla Castillo and Ashley Perez. Both Castillo and Perez recorded two kills a piece in the lopsided second set.
The Lady Coyotes refused to go away quietly, rallying back several times in the third set before a mishandled ball ended the set and the match. Jade Garcia recorded two kills for the Lady Coyotes in the final set while teammates Miranda Flores, Samantha Garcia and Gabby Herrera each recorded aces.
The third set saw Castillo record two aces and two kills that, along with two more kills from Perez, helped the Lady Eagles complete the sweep. Jasmin Gomez was a steady presence defensively throughout the night for Mission.
The win keeps the Lady Eagles in contention for their first playoff appearance since 2017 and Coach Edna Clemons was quick to praise others for the way the season has gone to this point. She credited coaches Prissy Aparacio and Monica Detmer who, along with herself, kept the team engaged with on-line workouts throughout the long layoff leading into the season.
“I can tell you,” said Clemons, “that I saw a difference in these girls (when they returned).”
Clemons cited a comeback win over Edinburg Vela and a victory over Edinburg North in the just completed first round as being big moments for the team. And she has seen how it affected her team.
“Now we’re in a whole different ball game and the girls are liking it.”
Clemons, however, has a clear message for her team as they prepare for the district’s second round of games. “I told them,’ (The) first round was tough; the second round’s going to be tougher. It’s just how bad you want it.”
Lady Coyotes coach Tina Martinez is looking at the second round as a chance for her young squad to improve and break through. The team of twelve dressed out only three seniors for the game against Mission. Six of the others are underclassmen.
“Because we are such a young group,” said Martinez, “we are unfortunately barely getting to where we would be if we would have had a regular season with practice games and tournaments.”
Martinez remains positive after the first round. “I’ve actually felt that with every team (that) we can compete. It hasn’t gone our way but we have great moments where we really come together.”
Both the Lady Eagles and Lady Coyotes will be busy over the next few days. Mission High is scheduled to host Edinburg Economedes tonight at 6:30 pm, travel to Edinburg High for a 11:00 am matchup with the Lady Bobcats tomorrow and then get their chance to redeem their only district loss in a match with PSJA High next Tuesday, November 3 at home. That contest is scheduled for a 6:30 pm start time. La Joya is scheduled to have a game against PSJA North tonight (6:30 pm at La Joya), before travelling to Economedes tomorrow morning for an 11:00 am game. The Lady Coyotes are scheduled to welcome Edinburg High next Tuesday night for a 6:30 pm contest.
On the north side of town the Mission Veterans Lady Patriots are waking up today in familiar territory. Having opened the year with two non-district losses, the team is currently undefeated in district play, all alone in first place in District 30-5A with a 4-0 record, following wins over Rio Grande City and Laredo Cigarroa earlier this week. The team is 4 – 2 overall.
Another local team is battling to stay in contention for a post-season berth in the same district. The Lady Lobos of La Joya Palmview have never been to the playoffs but are currently 2-2 in district (3-2 overall) with six games to play. The Lady Lobos fell to Roma on Tuesday and are scheduled to travel to Mission Vets tomorrow for a 12 pm contest to open the second round.
In District 31-5A, a number of postponements have jumbled the number of games each team in the district has played to date but three teams (McAllen High, McAllen Memorial, McAllen Rowe) each only have one loss to lead the league. Sharyland Pioneer is currently 6-2 in district and for the season as well. The Lady Rattlers of Sharyland High are 2 – 4 in district play (2 -5 overall) after their loss to McAllen Memorial Tuesday. Pioneer is scheduled to travel to Sharyland High tomorrow for a 4 pm contest.