They can see the horizon, glimpse the promise that might lie ahead, and at times it seems just a matter of time before tomorrow gets here.
But right now, the Lady Jags continue to fall short, showing tantalizing potential in dribs and drabs – enough to keep the spirits high – but struggling to translate improvement into victories. Saturday the Lady Jags began 31-6A action with a loss to EHS, after an earlier defeat at home against Brownsville Porter.
After Tuesday’s loss to visiting Porter, Coach Cristina Soto and her team pow-wowed in the weight room adjacent to the gym. It wasn’t a gripe fest or a dressing down, just an exhortation to keep on trying, fighting, working.
“You can see it; we are so close to getting there,” said Soto after Econ dropped three sets to Porter despite achieving numerous leads at various junctures. “We have a lot of young kids this year, just three seniors. And they are getting better, we just need to stay with it and I think it will come.”
It’s been a while for the program, as Soto has had to patiently try and build a foundation, and rebuild the success the school employed under former Coach Celi Ortega. Working against the Lady Jags are two items: one is that in the past few years there hasn’t been a senior class capable of lifting the team into the playoffs; two, there is and will be only one Leigha Brown, the super-duper star who was probably the greatest female athlete in the history of the Valley.
Nonetheless, Soto is confident that her youthful group is about to percolate, and against Porter, the signs were there.
The Lady Jags held leads in all three sets Tuesday, only to see the momentum die away, usually as a result of inconsistent performance in the serve-and-receive game.
“Right now our main problem is that we get a little scared when things don’t go right,” she opined. “In those times we tend to play like we’re afraid to make a mistake. That is understandable with inexperienced players, we have to learn to stay calm and just play our game.”
Hope for the future stems from a healthy supply of sizable options on the front line.
Wily veteran Norma Castillo continues to impress with her overall skill set, and newcomer Isabel Arguello, off a solid summer league stint, is going to get better and better in the middle. When the ball gets to them, the result will generally be positive; the district goal for the squad is to improve on digging and passing.
In other action Saturday, Vela swept through North in preparation for an early showdown against the Lady Bobcats, which scheduled for Tuesday. This match would be a tone-setter for the league wars as the Lady SaberCats attempt to solidify their backline. When Vela scored a 25-20, 20-17 25-8 triumph over North, Kathryn Borrego came up with 26 digs with Julia Cordon adding 22.