Day number two of the battle, with Vela looking for the football-volleyball sweep, the Lady Bobcats seeking a two-fer in the volley series, and the fans hoping that the Rematch would be as good as the first amazing collision between closely matched foes Sept. 12.
The envelope please: Lady Sabes take it in 5, sweeping the two-sport Rivalry series and splitting the volley pair with a vital win, each team giving the crowd yet another memorable afternoon of incredibly taut competition.
Saturday was like last time, in that one team charged out to a commanding two-set lead, only to see the other come right back to win a pair and force the white-knuckle clinching round. In the first outing it had been EHS breaking free early, Vela rallying to take control, but the Lady ‘Cats pushing through against the odds to win on the road.
Now it was Vela with the fast start, winning two sets but then falling in sets three and four. Home cooking just doesn’t fill them up anymore, as the visiting Lady Sabes held off their rival in the deciding set.
“This is what we needed, to be able to get the split with them for district,” said victorious coach Celi Ortega, whose girls are now tied in the standings with EHS for second place, a game behind P-SJ-A Memorial. “And today was very similar to last time! Neither team could seal it either day, until the end, one did. And with two teams that are so close in every way, we could expect the matches to be super tight. They weren’t going to give in and neither were we.”
Now that the craziness is past, both teams get a shot at catching the Lady Wolverines head to head in the next week. Considering the high level of play Saturday, Memorial had better be ready to go to war.
In grabbing the 2-0 advantage Vela was sharp in all phases, leading for the duration during the first run to go up, 25-13. Glenys Maldonado scored liberally while the front line of the Lady ‘Cats never got untracked. It was 12-3 real quick-like and a sluggish home side never caught up.
From 7-7 in the second set, Vela put five in a row on the board and though Tianna Howard heated up for a torrid stretch to even things at 13-all, the Lady Sabes surged again for five straight with Victoria Cavazos holding sway on net and Miranda Negrete serving excellent floaters. Jackie Calvillo notched a rejection up top and then killed off a sweet feed by firecracker Emily Espinoza to cap the 25-19 decision.
The Lady ‘Cats finally located some energy with their backs against the wall, Howard exploding for a quick six points, and EHS rumbled to a 15-6 bulge, the Lady Sabes looking slightly discombobulated after such a terrific beginning. Maldonado paced a comeback and Vela climbed to within 3 at 22-19. Natalie Martinez put the kibosh on the rally with a delayed tip that fooled everyone, and when Maria Reyes tipped successfully, EHS had won, 25-19.
Set Four was a masterpiece, clear and simple, with neither side ever leading by more than 3. Vela inched in front, 21-19 as Maldonado hit a sizzler and Cavazos scored a vicious putdown. The visitor led by 2 at 22-20 until Martinez hit through a block and followed with a ringing spike to the back line. It ended, 26-24, EHS and the crowd went wild with such quality volleyball to watch.
All the marbles now, and Vela resumed its excellence with Calvillo and Cavazos again coming through. It was 9-5 and then 11-8, Blue and Black but then Howard showed why she is a bona fide All-Valley player, leading her team back from the brink with a barrage of dynamite finishes. Her putdown knotted the affair at 14, and which team was going to finish? Bri Sanchez hammered a mammoth ace for a 1-point EHS lead but Vela tied it and went ahead on a slick pulling kill by the leaping Maldonado.
That was the key blow as Vela pulled it off, 17-15, and its hard-working girls erupted in joy, the Lady Bobcats shuffling off the floor in disbelief.
It was another clash for the ages, everything one could have asked for in a Rivalry showdown. This week both Vela and EHS will work to topple Memorial from the top spot, and ain’t nuthin’ decided just yet.
After the spirited football game between the two schools Friday, Saturday’s net action was even better. People this is a stupendous sports town, no question about it!