Cowboys to battle Jefferson for share of lead
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Burbank, Jefferson, McCollum, Sam Houston.
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McCollum’s veteran team is starting to test its limits as it ventures into the District 28-5A season. That is opening some eyes, including those belonging to the Cowboys.
“I think we surprised ourselves,” McCollum senior Neyda Sanchez said, referring to the Cowboys’ performance at the Seguin Tournament Aug. 28-30. “We beat some really good teams, like Taft. We kept up with the best.”
The Cowboys (10-8, 3-0) won five of eight matches at the tournament. They added two more wins this week, defeating Sam Houston (11-8, 1-2) 25-19, 25-20, 25-13 Tuesday at McCollum and Burbank (6-15, 0-2) 25-11, 25-13, 25-9 Friday at the Bulldogs’ gym.
The victories left McCollum in a three-way tie for first place in 28-5A with Jefferson (16-4, 3-0) and Brackenridge (6-18, 3-0). Highlands (13-9, 2-0) is a half-game behind in fourth.
“I think everyone has really stepped up,” McCollum coach Rose Ann Martinez said. “They’re playing really confidently right now. I’m excited. I’m happy to be where we’re at.
“We haven’t been letting our mistakes affect us, and that’s been a key for us.”
McCollum needed a little reminder in its match against Sam Houston.
The Hurricanes — who also lost 25-17, 25-7, 25-23 to Jefferson Friday – pushed the Cowboys from the outset, making the first two games close.
“We fought hard,” Sam Houston coach Courtney Davis said.
The Cowboys broke the third game open with their serving,
A pair of service aces from Catie Gonzalez (6 aces, 15 digs) opened an 11-2 lead over the Hurricanes. Casey Maldonado increased the lead to 15-3 with another ace. Victoria Yzaguirre (5 aces) produced a fourth ace to give McCollum a 21-11 advantage.
Sanchez then put down two of her 11 kills, the last of which brought the Cowboys to match point. She said McCollum was ready for the challenge of a possible battle for the district title.
“I think we’ve grown up as a team, and as a program,” she said. “We have to be mentally strong and physically strong. We really want it bad. We’re going after it.”
Dajah Thomas led Sam Houston with seven kills and seven digs. Karisma Mitchell made nine blocks. Tiaria Mackey finished with 16 assists.
Savannah Borjas dealt 22 assists for McCollum.
On Friday, the Cowboys’ standout serving carried over to their match at Burbank. McCollum served 12 aces, led by five from Yzaguirre and four from Alysia Garcia.
“We’ve had a couple of girls who had a few aces,” Martinez said. “It even helped get other girls in.
“They put up a good front. They had a couple of good blocks on us as well.”
Burbank received four blocks apiece from Antwanisha Riddle and Savannah Casiano. Rebekah Valma dished four assists and Katherine Regalado made four digs.
Borjas had 13 assists and Garcia contributed 11. Gonzalez led the team with 10 digs. Yzaguirre led the Cowboys with eight kills to go with five digs. Rich and Sanchez each contributed five.
“Victoria really shined Friday,” Martinez said. “She has played very well, which is really nice. She and Miranda (Rich) have taken a lot of pressure off Neyda. That’s helped us out a lot.”
Jefferson defeated Sam Houston Friday at the Alamo Convocation Center with help from 12 kills and five aces by Angela Hardcastle. Cecilia Campos chipped in with 14 digs.
Rita Davis led Sam Houston with 12 assists. Mitchell added nine kills and five blocks. Thomas served five aces.
The Mustangs will play 6:30 p.m. Friday at McCollum in a match that could clarify the 28-5A standings, if only temporarily.