MCALLEN – At Day Two of the Poundfest, they found themselves immersed in the Pool of Death, to battle with two of the Valley powers, McAllen teams Rowe and Memorial. And it was a predictably tough muster, with both Vela and North losing to those noted squads. However, the match between the two Edinburgs turned out to be very interesting, indeed.
The Lady Sabercats prevailed in three sets, punching their ticket into the Gold bracket semis to come on Saturday, while the Lady Cougars settled for Silver. But North made a solid account, winning the second set with a furious rush before wilting down the stretch against the favored rival.
Adrian Cavazos’ lineup was spotty due to a series of early injuries, and the team came off an opening-night loss to Mission. But his North girls fought well against Vela, getting inspired moments from Natalie Rodriguez, who dived and moved with deft skill at libero. Hitter Amber Dreyer turned in some solid shots and setter Andrea Saenz, forced into unfamiliar territory in the wake of the wounded, acquitted herself well.
Still, Vela got off fast to begin, leading 7-2 in the opening set Friday at Memorial as the leaping phenom Bianca Cortez was in fine form. Still, the Lady Coogs rallied into an 8-7 lead with a 6-0 run fueled by Saenz at the service line. The younger sister of former North star Abri, she is a more slender sort but shows some skills.
The Lady Sabes, who had stood out in the June summer league, got athleticism and explosion from Glenys Maldonado to regain command, running off 10 of 12 points to ease to a 25-16 victory.
Cavazos likes the growth potential of his team, which struggled last season amid a flurry of graduations and defections, and the Lady Coogs showed something in the second set. After falling behind 3-0 North hung steady until tying the match at 13 and then 14. Rodriguez served a winner for the lead and the Lady Sabes started to suffer from communication lapses. Newcomer Davidia de Leon chipped in with a scoring tip for North and a couple of kills from Dreyer set up an eventual 25-20 win; it was culminated by a sweet back-over on the second hit by veteran Amanda Cavazos, the coach’s kid.
Vela rebounded with sharp net play from Miranda Negrete and the continued excellence of Cortez; when the team gets the ball to B, good things inevitably are on the horizon. Thus challenged in the second set, Vela went to work in No. 3, grinding to a 4-0 lead with a pair of gems from Cortez. Though North stayed alive, down 6-4, the Lady Sabes closed it out with a dominant display, 15-6, as Negrete served with force and Jackie Calvillo provided a stern block.
Vela had begun the tourney with wins in two of three games Thursday, losing to McAllen High and former North standout Victoria Rogers, now a senior for the Lady Bulldogs. North defeated league rival Pharr North but dropped a match on the first Poundfest afternoon to Brownsville Vets.
The last day, Saturday, saw Vela beat Brownsville Vets but lose two other matches, while North went 2 for 3, beating Pharr North and Laredo Cigarroa (each in three sets) but suffering a wrenching loss to Sharyland, in three, 18-16 for the clincher.
Meanwhile, Econ competed at the tourney but failed to gain a victory over the first two days, and EHS was at the Donna Tourney. There, the Lady Bobcats rebounded from a Tuesday loss to Mercedes in the season lid-lifter to win three times Friday, including a triumph over that same Lady Tiger unit.
The Lady Jags broke through Saturday by taking out Weslaco, while EHS dropped its final try, against Donna. The Lady ‘Cats prepared for a tough road match against Edcouch-Elsa Tuesday while North was to be at home versus Harlingen and Vela at home against San Benito, the latter off to a hot start in 2017.