It’s been some time since the game’s merits and spoils had been this perky, but with the improvement shown by the Lady Jags and the transition in progress for EHS, some were thinking that Tuesday was anything but a done deal heading in.
Even when Econ had the sublime Leigha Brown rising into the rafters a few years back, the Lady Bobcats dominated the series between the two rivals. One has to navigate through the portals into the mid-2000s (Morgan Brown, Shay Hernandez, Laura Rodriguez, Lexi Normendez) to locate a series of Lady Jag wins over EHS.
So both teams had something to prove Tuesday and it was the Red and Blue that made the final accounting, sweeping Econ at home to gain a much-needed bright spot.
“This is just a brand new team, with all that this represents,” said Coach Deanna Dominguez of her refurbished lineup. “These girls are doing everything we ask, their work ethic is tremendous. But gosh, when you look back at all our games, the lineups are all different, we have just been struggling to come up with consistency in that respect.”
One element that has helped the Lady Bobcat effort recently is the addition of transfer Victoria Fuentes, as she has added length to the middle of the net and considerable potential.
“She is learning what it’s like to be a Bobcat and I think she has really made progress,” said Dominguez of the springy newcomer, who reminds of former Vela star Bianca Cortez in some areas of the game. “I think Tori can get even better as the season goes along.”
The coach also praised the work put in by young Adrianna Guerra.
“She is just super fearless,” Dominguez noted. “She wants the ball, which is hugely important for a libero, and in time I think she will be an excellent player. Like so many of our girls, she’s just starting out: doesn’t have a lot of experience but she is working hard and getting better each time.”
The Lady Bobcats were consistent against Econ, and won the first set 25-13 with some nice contributions from Bryhane Salinas, younger sister of the great slammer, Brittany Salinas. The Next Edition hit well early on and showed her mettle with a few diving saves in the first set.
Fuentes also was active, starting the second set with a leaping save, a fine tip, and a ringing kill from the middle through a block. She jumps very well, and long, willowy arms allow her to get to stray passes and redirect them with force.
The Lady Jags hung tough with some solid plays by sophomore Marixa Zamora, one of the better prospects in orange. EHS led 12-9 and then went on a roll, aided by unforced errors on the other side, and clinched a 25-17 decision. A late block from Julissah Santa Maria and a kill from Salinas ended the set well.
In an attempt to reflect the improvement they have made, the Lady Jags looked good in set three, a day after having defeated Donna North for their first league win. Araceli Garcia smashed a couple of kills and Sabrina Garcia was on the spot with some sharp sets, good for a 7-7 tie. When Isabel Arguello hammered a spike it was 11-9, Econ, but the Lady ‘Cats rallied on a block from Zarina Rodriguez and a perfect Renee Ponce pass to Fuentes that gave them a 12-11 advantage with the latter’s deft tip.
Ponce’s push to space together with Fuentes’ kill got the momentum going at 15-12 and from there EHS ran off a streak to get up, 21-13. Zamora of Econ came up with a block for a point but EHS finished it, 25-18, Ponce dominating the late action.
NOTES: Vela remained unbeaten at 4-0, after a comeback victory against Weslaco and a Saturday breeze over Donna North. North is 3-1 in preparation for Tuesday’s game against Econ (1-4 now) while EHS (2-2) seeks to bounce back from a 5-set loss to Weslaco Saturday, against Vela at home Tuesday.
The Meet of Champs cross country competition in Donna came off Saturday with the EHS boys fourth and Vela fifth, while the girls’ side had Econ third and EHS fifth. Juan Garcia of EHS continues to perform well, and ran third at Donna, with Vela’s Jeremy Nino in seventh spot. Dayan Lozano of the Lady Jags was the only city top 10 finisher at the big meet, getting No. 8 honors.