2020 Mission CISD Volleyball
Both the Lady Eagles and Lady Patriots joined new districts this season that contained a mixture of schools from the last two years as well as some new opponents.
Mission Lady Eagles (District 31-6A) Head Coach: Edna Clemons (11th year)
The Lady Eagles entered 2020 with nine returning players, most of whom were seniors. That experience helped in light of the fact that the teams of District 31-6A played three times a week in order to complete a full slate of district games in the shortened time frame that had been allotted.
“I’m lucky to say that I have several of my players coming back,” said Head Coach Edna Clemons. “I have high expectations with this group. We are going to do what we have to do to become district champs.”
The team returned Ashley Perez (senior), a First Team All-District outside hitter last year in the very competitive District 30-6A. Classmates Jasmin Gomez (libero), Nancy Jacobo (setter) and Mayella Cantu (middle blocker) also contributed.
The team won the District 31 – 6A title, their first in 29 years. Playoff results were pending as of press time.
Mission Veterans Lady Patriots (District 29-5A) Head Coach: Diana Lerma (18th year)
Both the Lady Patriots and Head Coach Diana Lerma entered the year looking to add to their impressive run of district titles and playoff appearances with a number of new players.
The squad graduated seven players from last year’s District 31-5A champions and returned only two. Rylie Barnett (Soph.), the District 31-5A Newcomer of the Year was back to lead the Lady Patriots along with defensive specialist Michaela Perez (Soph.) They were joined by members of the programs two junior varsity squads; both who won district titles in their respective divisions in 2019.
Lerma is using the success of the past as motivation for 2020. “That’s the first thing . . . , “said Lerma. “Are we going to continue the tradition or are we going to have to stop and reload or are you going to keep it going?”
The Lady Patriots claimed another district title this year, going undefeated during district play. They were eliminated by Victoria West in the first round of the playoffs.
2020 Sharyland ISD Volleyball
Both Sharyland High and Sharyland Pioneer were playoff teams last year but the addition of the three schools from McAllen ISD meant that District 31-5A now included six teams that were part of the post season in 2019.
Sharyland Lady Rattlers (District 31-5A) Head Coach: Raul Castillo (7th year)
The Lady Rattlers returned a solid core of six players from last year’s playoff team. That core included a libero (Ximena Chapa – Senior), a setter (Ana Paola Cerda – Senior) and a front row presence (Marianna Martinez – Junior). Martinez earned First Team All-District honors for her play last year. Roxana Garcia (Senior) also logged significant playing time last season.
The new look that District 31-5A had this year did not change Coach Castillo’s approach or expectations for the season. “The goal always stays the same,” said Castillo. “We want to reach for the top.”
Castillo also talked about using the experience of the shutdown of both schools and athletic contests earlier this year as motivation. “Like everybody else we want the best team,” said Castillo, “but we also want to make sure we get a chance to finish for our seniors.”
The Lady Rattlers finished the season in fifth place in District 31 – 5A.
Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks (District 31-5A) Head Coach: Laura Cavazos (7th year)
Seven returning players greeted Coach Cavazos when the Lady Diamondbacks finally got back together for workouts in late September to see if they could improve upon last year’s District Runner-up finish. Many of those returning for the Lady Diamondbacks earned recognition for their play last year as well.
Jorieliss Caraballo (Senior) was the District 31-5A Outstanding Defensive Specialist in 2019 and Natalie Reyes (Junior) was the league’s Outstanding Setter. Lorelai Hill (Junior) earned First Team honors last season and Daisy Monie (Senior) made the Second Team.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the gym,” said Cavazos, “but there is also a lot of experience; which is nice.” Cavazos went on to describe how that experience reduces the time she has to spend reminding her players of the little things. “It’s a good feeling.”
The team finished third in the district. Playoff results were pending as of press time.
2020 La Joya ISD Volleyball
Both La Joya High and Palmview came into the 2020 season hoping for better results after each finished out the top four in their respective districts last year.
La Joya High Lady Coyotes (District 31-6A) Head Coach: Tina Martinez (4th Year)
Perhaps no other volleyball team in the Big 7 faced the challenges the Lady Coyotes had to deal with this season. The 2019 team was a senior group, leaving Coach Tina Martinez with only a few returning players from last year. The late start by La Joya ISD also meant that they jumped right into district play once they hit the court without the benefit of having a scrimmage or two for preparation. A reduced number of games and the fact that District 31-6A play would consist of three games a week meant that her young team had only a few opportunities to grow through practice.
Despite the challenges Coach Martinez had an optimistic outlook for her 2020 squad. “Coming in with the experience that we have, it’s going to be a little difficult;” said Martinez, “but I don’t put it past us to do well.”
The Lady Coyotes will be relying on Stefanie Solis (Senior) and Martha Rangel (Senior) to anchor the defensive side of things for the team while Stefani Alaniz (Sophomore) is expected to contribute offensively.
The Lady Coyotes finished the season out of the running for a playoff spot.
La Joya Palmview Lady Lobos (District 30-5A) Head Coach: Margo Iglesias-Cantu (4th Year)
The Lady Lobos were in a similar situation as the Lady Coyotes when it came to getting a late start on the season. The team, however, did have six players returning from last season to help deal with the lack of court time they had in order to get ready for their first game.
Coach Iglesias-Cantu noted seniors Alejandra Hernandez, Crystal Perez and Daisy Rodriguez as three players she expected big contributions from this year. Iglesias – Cantu began the season hoping this years’ squad would be the first Palmview volleyball team to make the postseason in their schools history.
“This is the team that I would say would be my strongest since I’ve been here” said Iglesias-Cantu. “All of them understand my philosophy and our goal(s). I’m just really happy and thankful that we are going to have a season and we’re all going to give it 110%.”
The Lady Lobos second place finish in the district earned them that long awaited playoff spot. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Gregory – Portland.