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Tuesday Night Lights

Sharyland Rattlers (3-0) vs. McAllen Memorial Mustangs (3-0)

Picture this. The lights are bright, the stage is set, and you’re about to witness one of the most competitive sports being played, but it’s a Tuesday. You must have stumbled upon a good old-fashioned volleyball game. Here at Progress Times and Big 7 Sports, we would like to introduce you to you what we know as, Tuesday Night Lights. Tuesday’s are for the girls and this week we got the chance to take a look at what the Lady Sharyland Rattlers were up to.

Sharyland junior setter, Kassandra de la Garza blocks the ball during the Lady Rattlers’ straight sets win against McAllen Memorial Tuesday night. Progress Times photo by Joe Vela.

But first, let’s see what their season was looking like before this game. The Lady Rattlers started their 2023 season back in early August. They got off on the right foot by getting a win in their first game, but they followed that with a loss. That must have stuck with them because they have not lost a single game since then and it’s nearly a whole month later. They took their win streak into their first district game, where at that point, it was 15 games. The win streak was extended to 25 going into their second and third district game and with that, they got it to 27. Now we’re here. The Sharyland Rattlers, Pioneer Diamondbacks, and Memorial Mustangs are fighting for the top position in their district. The teams were all tied up in District 31-5A at 3-0 at the beginning of the night, but at the end of the night, at least one of these teams was going to fall because the Lady Rattlers were getting ready to face district rival, the McAllen Memorial Mustangs.

The game started off just the way we thought it would between these two juggernauts. They were going point for point with each other and tied at 8-8. This game really could have gone anywhere from this point, but it was the Lady Rattlers who took over in this game as they went up by eight (16-8) by capitalizing on mistakes made by the Mustangs. Sharyland outside hitter Kenisha Martinez showed up and her efforts on the court didn’t go unnoticed. Martinez portrayed dominance in this set as the Mustangs started to get something going on the offensive side, but it was not enough for her and her team as they trailed by a score of 22-15. This set finished at 25-17 in favor of the Lady Rattlers. Two sets to go.

Sharyland junior setter, Kassandra de la Garza, prepares to set the ball during the Lady Rattlers’ straight sets win against McAllen Memorial Tuesday night. Progress Times photo by Joe Vela.

The second set started the same way the first one did, tied at 12-12. But the mistakes started piling up for the Mustangs and the Rattlers were taking advantage of them on the defensive end. A defense that would not be the way it is was it not for an elite libero, Ava Garza, who was taking the lead in this set. Garza and her team were able to pull away from the tied score to finish the set in favor of the Lady Rattlers by a score of 25-17. One set to go.

The third set was the last chance for the Mustangs to get something going and steal a set from the Lady Rattlers. Memorial was able to get a lead early in this set, but these rallies were not your typical ones, they didn’t stop. The long rallies were proof that Memorial was trying their best to not lose in this matchup, but the Rattlers weren’t either as the Mustangs led 9-7 early on. The fight continued and both sides were exchanging blows. If Sharyland scored, so did Memorial, but as is usually the case one started pulling away. This time it was the Lady Rattlers as they led 19-17. Moments like these are what separate the good teams from the great teams and the Lady Rattlers were looking to make that known. Sharyland was looking to close this game out and that’s exactly what they were able to do. They finished the set with a 25-18 win, giving themselves the advantage in the district and extending their winning streak to 28 wins in a row.

Sharyland Senior Ashlyn Garcia going for the kill during the Lady Rattlers’ straight sets win against McAllen Memorial Tuesday night. Progress Times photo by Joe Vela.

After the game concluded, I got the chance to speak to a couple of players who played key roles in their team’s win. Outside hitter Kenisha Martinez talked to me about the advantage that her team has in the district with a win, “It’s a really good advantage to have, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to come back and push harder next time. It still puts us in a great spot to start off the season.”

After a great defensive game from the Lady Rattlers, I asked libero Ava Garza about the performance that they put on, “We were very well energized, we were really focused today on the energy more than the skill, we wanted to take our energy and use it as a weapon and I’m really proud of our girls for not taking a step down from that throughout the game.” Garza sent a shout-out to Head Coach Raul Castillo after the win, “He really knows how to get us out of our sore spots, hearing him cheer us on makes us do better.”

Castillo spoke to me about the win and what it does for the Lady Rattlers in a tight district race, “There’s no relaxing, our foot needs to stay on the pedal and we gotta keep pushing forward.” He followed that by saying this about his team’s performance, “They never gave up. They didn’t stop playing, they never got down on themselves, they never quit, they kept pushing and I’m proud of them.”

This game was one that you had to just sit back and appreciate. Both teams played their hearts out but ultimately one had to come out on top. All good things come to an end, but not on this Tuesday night for the Lady Sharyland Rattlers as they improve to 4-0 in the district.


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