South San, Southwest win bracket championships
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Highlands, Holy Cross, Jefferson, South San, Southside, Southwest, Young Women’s Leadership Academy.
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Because of the caliber of competition and the number of matches played in a short period of time, tournaments can serve as stepping stones to an outstanding season. That may have happened for three of the eight area teams entered last weekend at the SAISD Tournament.
District rivals Southwest (9-7) and South San (8-5) emerged as champions, winning the Bronze and Silver pools, respectively. SAISD representative Highlands (6-8) was the top finisher in the Gold Pool, which determined the overall champion. The Owls placed third in the two-day tournament, which took place at the Alamo Convocation Center and Highlands.
“I feel like this tournament helped a lot,” Southwest sophomore Aashlyn Sulaica said. “We were able to make mistakes, then come out and fix them. It’s going pretty well. We’re excited for district.”
McAllen (15-2) was the Gold Pool champion. Holy Cross (10-4) lost its last two matches, including a two-game decision against Highlands, and finished fourth in the pool.
Highlands defeated the Knights 25-17, 26-24.
“The girls played really well at the Laredo tournament last year and that was the turning point of our season,” Highlands coach Jaci Barrientes said. “We’re hoping this was the turning point for this year, a week earlier. We just want to carry this through and keep getting stronger.”
South San, on the heels of a good showing at the Harlandale ISD Tournament a week earlier, breezed to four wins in the Bronze Pool after dropping two matches Friday. The Bobcats defeated Wagner (3-10) 25-16, 23-25, 25-16 in a pivotal match that decided first place.
“We worked hard together all summer,” said South San junior setter Erica Jimenez, an all-tournament selection. “We’re coming together as a team. We have some goals in mind and we’re working hard all the time.”
The Dragons took a 2-6 record into the weekend. They lost a three-game match to Holy Cross 27-25, 21-25, 25-13 that dropped them into the Silver Pool. Southwest never lost again, winning their last four matches in two games.
Southwest defeated pool runner-up Schertz John Paul II (5-2), 25-11, 25-14. Southside (8-7) finished third and Jefferson (13-4), which entered the tournament undefeated, took fourth.
Dragons senior Yasmine Garcia helped seal the fourth win with a nine-point service run that included three aces against Brackenridge (2-11). Another Southwest setter, Dori Martinez, delivered a seven-point run that finished with an ace in Game 1 against Jefferson. The Dragons beat the Mustangs 25-17, 25-23.
“They put forth the effort and put the ball where you want it,” Southwest coach Erin Morgal said of her three setters, including Angie Aguilar. “The hitters help them out, (communicating with) them.”
In their pool, which included Young Women’s Leadership Academy, the Bobcats won the other three matches in two games. South San coach Dyanne Martinez-Munoz is an assistant athletic director at the school. She accepted the position after Sanando Molina was hired at Poteet over the summer.
“The girls showed a lot of character today,” said Martinez-Munoz, who hasn’t coached volleyball since 1980. “They made up for what they should have done Friday.”
Martinez-Munoz has coached seven sports during her career.
` The Owls tied Holy Cross 22-22 on a block from senior Jenelle Rodriguez after the Knights had established a 17-13 advantage behind the hitting of Henrianna Ibarra (6 kills in the game). Holy Cross missed five serves in the game, which helped Highlands push through in Game 2.
Kills from Bryten Mitchan and Emily Pearce punctuated the win.
“We made some changes coming into the weekend,” Barrientes said, “and they seem to be working. When we get everything going, we’re hard to stop.”
Holy Cross was the only team in the pool to take McAllen to three games (25-21, 17-25, 25-23), but lost both of its matches Saturday.
“We rely so heavily on our serving, that really hurt us,” Holy Cross coach Ruben Calderon said. “Highlands played a very good game and made adjustments. We didn’t react to that.”
MORE TO COME