MISSION – They were looking for answers at the latest tournament, all the while knowing that airtight solutions are always a work in progress.
All four volleyball clubs were set for no fewer than six matches the first two days, and whatever was to unfold for the Saturday money rounds. For Coach Christina Soto and Econ, the chance to get some work in was vital, as well as the opportunity to continue to bond.
“We’ve got the season in district coming up, so this tournament gives us a shot at coming together,” said Soto, whose Lady Jags are working in several new pieces to the latest puzzle. “I told them not to worry about wins and losses so much, but to focus on playing as a team, learning from each other, and getting better with every experience.”
Econ faced a real solid LBJ squad out of Laredo to start with Thursday, and the inexperience showed at times. The Lady Jags, who toss out a good-size lineup this season with some promising kids, did not find a groove against a quick and springy opponent, falling behind early and never quite catching up. LBJ ended up in the gold bracket final Saturday, losing to Mission Vets.
Still, the Lady Jags showed some good signs, from the hustle of junior libero Lory Martinez to the frontline grace and explosion of Arlyssa Sierra. The latter is part of the school’s fine sophomore crop, which in volley includes basketball guard Jazmine Loredo and newcomer Arianna Reyna. That is the youngster group, as the rest of the cast is composed of seniors, some of whom are new to the varsity level. Another hoopster, Sarai Rivas, hopes for minutes at the net with established vet Isabella Arguello while other girls seeking to contribute are Andrea Rodriguez, Yanira Alanis, and Marixa Zamora.
While Econ did its work Thursday, the Lady Bobcats were toiling on the opposite court at Mission High, fighting their way past Grulla before losing to Sharyland and then beating Laredo Cigarroa to end the first evening.
Coach Deanna Dominguez, seeking to overcome the transfer loss of her best player, was cautious but optimistic.
“Don’t judge me,” she laughed, “and don’t judge our team just yet. Give us time! We have a lot of work to do but I do think we have the nucleus of a team that can challenge for the title.”
It’s true that EHS got a lot smaller with the loss of Tori Fuentes but the rest of the gang has moxie and energy, with former libero Kristen Salinas getting acquainted with setting and Hannah Vega turning in a solid first day with a number of smart saves. The return of Julissah Santa Maria from injury will help, as she played a part in last year’s successful foray, and Dominguez has her eye on a few youngins as well. For instance, Natalie Hernandez is a freshman who showed no fear at the tourney as an outside hitter and her development will stand the team in good stead for the future. EHS dropped out against San Benito Saturday.
In other action at Mission, Vela rebounded from a slow start to capture the bronze bracket title over Brownsville Pace Saturday while North defeated P-SJ-A Memorial on the last day but then ran into San Benito, expiring in the silver semis.