Lady Rattlers defeat Lady Diamondbacks
Pioneer Diamondbacks (8-0) vs. Sharyland Rattlers (8-0)
Last weekend, the battle for first place in 5A Region IV District 30 took place as the undefeated Sharyland Lady Rattlers (8-0) faced up against the undefeated Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks (8-0). The gymnasium at Pioneer High School, the fans, and the players were all decorated in gold in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This event was the teams’ annual “Go Gold” game that raises awareness for childhood cancer and showcases survivors from both schools. Go Gold is a childhood cancer awareness organization designed to fundraise money to find a cure for cancer; a massive win in our books. The stakes of this game were now raised as both teams knew that a win would mean more than just a win. It would go a long way towards determining the eventual district champions.
The game started with these two juggernauts going back and forth. For every point the Lady Diamondbacks scored, the Lady Rattlers had an answer for it. This was a testament to the defense of the Lady Rattlers, who were making the Lady Diamondbacks earn every point against them. Rattlers’ Kenisha Martinez was making play after play for her team putting them on top early into the game. Though the Lady Rattlers were playing tough defense, the Diamondbacks were responding by playing with discipline on the court. This was led by Diamondbacks’ Aleena Zuniga, who would lead this team to success on the court as they were able to capitalize on the minimal mistakes that the Rattlers would make. Zuniga and her teammates were doing everything they could to keep the Rattlers from coming back in this game which is easier said than done.
Martinez would continue to make plays on the court to combat the Diamondbacks efforts. Those plays would lead to another set being won by the Rattlers. The Diamondbacks kept fighting in this game as they were able to get early leads. Everything was pointing in the direction of the Diamondbacks winning a set, but the Rattlers had other plans.
Kassandra de la Garza put the team on her back offensively and defensively as she closed out the game herself for the Rattlers win. This game marked the end of first round district play. Both the Lady Diamondbacks and Lady Rattlers went on to win their first game in the second round Tuesday night. The Diamondbacks advanced to (9-1) while the Rattlers advanced to (10-0) in their district. Rattlers’ Kenisha Martinez finished the game with a team high 13 kills and an ace on the day while her teammate Kassandra de la Garza finished with 8 kills and a team high 14 assists. Diamondbacks’ Aleena Zuniga finished with a team high 8 kills and 13 digs while her teammate Tera Schumacher finished with 13 digs and a team high 16 assists.
After the game I got the chance to speak to a couple of players from both teams. I spoke to Diamondbacks’ Aleena Zuniga about the loss that afternoon, “This was a tough loss for us but it also doesn’t define us as a team, we’re going to be working hard from here and I think we will get better as we keep working.”
No doubt that this team is going to continue to make noise for the rest of the season. The Rattlers win meant something more to Kenisha Martinez, who told me, “as a team it means so much, we’ve had a lot of people in our school that have fought the cancer battle and since it was also a rivalry game, we wanted to win and fight for every single point like those kids who are fighting too.”
I spoke to Lady Rattlers’ head coach Raul Castillo about the impact of Go Gold and what a game like this meant to him and his team, “We tell the kids that these games are an opportunity for us to play for something bigger than us. We had some kids that we recognized so it’s always a special event. We want to do something special for these kids.”
The second round of district play has begun so let’s see where our Big 7 Sports teams stand after the first round play. The Rattlers (9-0) went undefeated through the first round of district play. The Rattlers came into the first round riding a 15 game winning streak from non-district and tournament play. They ended the first round by extending that winning streak to 33 and with a first place spot in their district.
I asked Rattlers’ Kenisha Martinez about the way the first round went for them, “We’re number one in district, so we’re going to keep fighting, we finished the first round undefeated so we’re going to keep fighting to finish the second round undefeated and finish off as district champs like last year.” There is no doubt that they will accomplish their goal with the talents of Kenisha Martinez and Kassandra de la Garza.
The Diamondbacks (8-1) finished the first round of district play with their only loss coming against the Rattlers. They went into the first round with a 14-2 record from non-district and tournament play. They finished the first round on a loss, but this doesn’t discredit anything they have done this season. The Diamondbacks are now sitting in second place. Their disciplined offense and elite defense is what makes them a top team in a very talented district.
I asked head Lady Diamondbacks’ head coach Laura Cavazos about what’s in store for her team as they begin play in the second round, “We’re not done yet, we need to continue to work and better our game, not only for the second round, but for the playoffs as well.” With so much success in the first round, they hope to match that energy in the second round.
There’s no doubt that these two teams are talented and the race for first in district is going to be a fun one to watch, but there’s more to this district than just these two teams. The McAllen Memorial Mustangs and the McAllen High Bulldogs are two teams that are fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Last season, the Rattlers took first in district followed by the Mustangs. while the Diamondbacks fell to third and the Bulldogs in fifth.
This season, the Memorial Mustangs (6-2) finished the first round in third place followed by the McAllen Bulldogs (6-3) in fourth. Both the Lady Rattlers and Lady Diamondbacks have been able to win their matchups between the two teams in the first round. We could see the Rattlers and Diamondbacks repeat their success in the second round, but it won’t be easy with teams like these in their district. The best of luck in the second round to the Sharyland Rattlers and the Pioneer Diamondbacks! We hope to see you both in the playoffs.